Preliminary search reveals no black mold at school

An extensive visual search of W.W. Robinson Elementary School in Woodstock has turned up no evidence of black mold, according to Superintendent Jeremy Raley. Shenandoah County Public Schools still waits on the results of a test by a third party company.

“We are continuing to investigate the report that we received last week,” Raley said, but they “have not seen any visible mold.”

He said the search of the school included classrooms and duct work in the ceilings.

“We will see what happens when we get the reports back,” he said.

The report of black mold, which came on Friday after a concerned parent contacted the school, follows the district’s recent release of its Capital Improvement Plan for 2015-2020.

Requests for the five-year plan come to $10,491,336 and for the 2015-16 school year equal $1,876,788.

The plan includes, among other urgent needs, the replacement of the unit ventilators (air conditioning units) at Ashby Lee Elementary School in Quicksburg and at W.W. Robinson.

The expected cost to replace the two units is $550,000.

Last year, the district was approved for $450,000 of capital improvement dollars from the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors. The money funded security updates to elementary and high schools and rooftop air conditioning units for two elementary schools and two middle schools.

Other upcoming projects assigned an urgent rating are a $90,000 gymnasium addition at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Strasburg, a new fire alarm panel at Triplett Tech for nearly $66,000; the $22,000 replacement of an 8-inch water main at Signal Knob Middle School in Strasburg; and switch gear maintenance to the electrical switchgear at all elementary, middle and high schools totaling $65,000.

The projects were rated urgent according to a point system evaluating the need for improvements in areas of safety and security; heating, ventilation and air conditioning; roofing; doors and locks; athletics, physical education, transportation, new construction and additional maintenance department projects.

The new gym at Sandy Hook, described as a 40-by-60-foot building on a concrete slab, would double as extra cafeteria space to help ease the school’s growing population that has forced lunch times to begin at 10:30 a.m.

New fire alarm panels would upgrade systems so fire alarms could be heard in all parts of Triplett Tech; the Signal Knob water main would replace a pipe that’s already burst twice and, should it burst again, would render the school unusable while it’s being repaired or replaced.

According to Raley, the urgency of repairs is the result of “years upon years of deferred maintenance.”

“As a result, our facilities continue to age,” he said. “Our newest facility is 20 years old.”

School switchgears are recommended for testing every three years, but according to the report have never been tested.

Projects described as urgent ranked at 20 to 24 points.

Other high scoring projects include the following:

• The $150,000 upgrading of intercoms and telephones in all schools and $15,000 testing of corrosion on dual temperature piping at Ashby Lee – 19 points;

• The $30,000 replacement of exhaust fans serving bathrooms, custodial closets and various other mechanical systems at elementary schools, reported as “inoperable for a number of years” – 18 points;

• The $90,000 replacement of ceiling mounted unit ventilators at all schools – 16 points.

Not yet included is a request for two new schools, both of which the School Board will consider after hearing recommendations from its new Student Population and Capacity Explorations committee. The committee first met in September.

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com