Starke Elementary School to reopen on March 18

Starke Elementary works to fix mold problems

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STARKE, Fla. - Starke Elementary School will reopen in March next year after it was closed in August due to the school having "unacceptable air quality," according to the Bradford County School District.

The school closed on Friday, Aug. 23 after Superintendent Chad Farnsworth reviewed a building health report which determined the school had unacceptable air quality.

The district said students resumed classes at alternate locations on Sept. 3.

"To date we have been able to complete enough of an assessment to identify what we feel are the primary causes of the mold growth," said Architect Paul Stressing in a letter to Farnsworth. "The contributing factors found appear to be failed or compromised mechanical equipment, automated controls, insufficient outside air ventilation and building pressure, and various breaches in the perimeter building thermal envelope."

READ: Letter from Paul Stressing to Superintendent Chad Farnsworth

"The voids in the thermal envelope appear to be the result of shifting, settlement, and sagging of insulation due to age and expansion and contraction of building materials, which we are still in the process of documenting," Stressing continued. "New automated controls have been ordered and installed on the current 15+ year-old equipment that has been recently repaired until the newly ordered mechanical equipment arrives."

Stressing said the new mechanical equipment will take over 12 weeks to arrive, therefore making it necessary to both repair the existing aged equipment and add supplemental portable dehumidifiers. Stressing says this is necessary "to accelerate the dry out efforts of some of the interior spaces and bring the interior condition space to a controllable environment that prohibits mold growth."

"Once the new mechanical equipment arrives it will be installed, the ductwork cleaned and or replaced. While waiting for the mechanical equipment the thermal envelope repairs and provisions for equipment accessibility to the mechanical mezzanine will occur," said Stressing. "At the completion of the repair and replacement efforts the interior spaces will receive a top-down cleaning to remove existing mold. Cleaning will be performed by a Florida licensed mold remediation contractor with direction from a mold assessment consultant. Once complete, the buildings will be retested and when found acceptable the buildings will be certified by an independent air quality testing company before allowing student occupancy."

School district officials said the total cost of the project is expected to range from $1.5 million to $2 million. The Bradford County School District has allocated $177,100.72 from Fund 360 (Capital Outlay & Debt Service Fund) and $935,990.98 from Fund 370 (Local Capital Outlay Fund) for the project.

The District said it will also obtain a loan in the amount of $850,000 for a total of $1,963,091.70.

The Bradford County School District's Spring Break takes place the week of March 9, teachers return for a planning day on Monday, March 17, and students will return to Starke Elementary School on Tuesday, March 18.

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