Officials approve mold eradication at Philippi Elementary

Glen Sweet, facilities coordinator for Barbour County schools, updated members of the Barbour County Board of Education Monday regarding mold in Philippi Elementary School.

The issue of mold in the school and its disposal came into question during last week’s public hearings on the proposed closure of Mt. Vernon and Volga-Century elementary schools. Questions were raised about the safety of consolidation of students from those schools into Philippi Elementary School if it has mold.

Sweet told board members Monday that officials from the state visited the school to look at the areas in question and to check that proper procedures were followed in the removal of the carpet spots. Previously, Sweet reported that when the mold spots appeared on the carpet in the school, the carpet was removed and replaced with tile.

“(Officials from the state) did note that there were some ceiling tiles in the school with staining, but they did not see any that had turned black,” Sweet said. “They recommended that we change those tiles out, just for safety sake. We got those changed out today.”

Superintendent of Barbour County Schools Dr. Joseph Super asked Sweet if what the officials said Monday was any different than what they had said in the past.

“No,” Sweet said.

Super asked if the procedures followed in the past were the same procedures officials were telling them to follow Monday.

“Yes,” Sweet said. “They did indicate that the removal of the carpet was extreme -that all we would have had to do was wash it with a soapy solution.”

Super asked if by “extreme,” the officials meant that Barbour school staff went beyond the bare minimum to ensure students’ safety.

“Yes, extreme to the good,” Sweet said. “I have always felt we need to protect our kids. The carpet holds so much dirt that when we can eliminate carpet, I say let’s do it.

“Public pressure is going to be there; public stigma is going to be there on what the issues are, and the best thing we can do to ease the minds of parents is to be aggressive as we can during the situation,” Sweet said. “We had the tile, the school needed it and we used it.”

In other business, board members voted to approve a proposed grant application for School Innovation Zone and Dropout Prevention Innovation.

“We have an opportunity to apply,” Super said. “We were told originally that the state department had eliminated innovation zone grants. We are narrowing our focus and looking at the continuation of the new tech program at the high school.

“We found some attendance information that is encouraging,” Super said. “The students involved in the new tech program had a higher attendance rate than the other students. It speaks well of the program, and we want to try to renew that grant for another three years.”

The next meeting of the Barbour County Board of Education will be a special session tonight at 6 p.m. at Philippi Elementary School. The meeting is a public hearing regarding the proposed closure of Volga-Century and Mt. Vernon elementary schools and their consolidation with Philippi Elementary School.