Mold abatement continues at North Dorchester High School

_PLC4730

Repairs to the leaky roof were ongoing as of the first weeks of August.

In the spring of 2014, North Dorchester High School was the target of much scrutiny after indoor air quality concerns pointed to a potential mold problem at the school. The Superintendent and the Executive Team immediately directed district staff to investigate, and determined that there were concerns that needed remediation. A comprehensive report of the situation was presented to the Board of Education at the July board meeting.

The findings were that there were significant moisture penetration issues involving the building envelope (roof and walls) of the facility due to age related deterioration, cost prohibitive deferred maintenance, and the overall need to replace this aging facility. Specifically, roof leaks and deteriorated mortar joints created avenues for unwanted moisture to enter the building envelope.

A recommended repair and moisture mitigation program to the affected areas was developed by Facilities staff with input from outside experts and approved by the Superintendent of Schools. Implementation of repairs began immediately upon approval.

The presence of excessive moisture in the building creates an environment that could support mold growth. All areas of concern were identified by the building administration for appropriate abatement actions. Proactive sanitizing actions have been taken to immediately clean affected areas using recognized cleaning/sanitizing protocols.

_PLC4725

Repointing and repair to the outer brick structure will help keep moisture outside of the buildings.

The repair and mitigation program has been continuing this summer using both school district Facilities staff and outside contractors. Effectiveness of repairs and moisture mitigation are monitored on an ongoing basis and additional steps taken as necessary. The bulk of the repair and moisture mitigation program is expected to be completed by the start of the new school year.

For the last two years, the replacement of North Dorchester High School has been the top capital priority of the Board of Education, Superintendent of Schools, the Executive Team and the Facilities Management Team. This priority has been publicly and actively discussed and advocated for with the public, the Dorchester County Council, and State of Maryland’s Board of Public Works. In May of 2014, the State of Maryland’s Board of Public Works agreed with the Board of Education and Dorchester County Council and granted Local Planning Approval to the Board of Education and Dorchester County Council for a new NDHS facility.

Seed money for planning the replacement facility was provided by the Dorchester County Council on July 1, 2014. The Superintendent of Schools and his Executive Team are currently refining a replacement facility program strategy for implementation over the next several years.

“The longer term solution of a new school building is going to take a lot of time,” said County Councilman Rick Price. “Even if the council were to approve (plans for a new school) the process would not begin for at least a year, and wouldn’t be finished for a couple more years. To get a new high school, everybody has to work together and think outside the box on ways to provide the funding. I opposed the construction of the Tech Center ahead of the new high school. And I believe that the costs associated with the incubator project for the Tech Park should be put on hold until we’re making progress on the high school.”

County Council members at the recent (8/5) meeting went on record to say that they were in favor of building a new high school, but that the main issue is funding. In the meantime, all affected areas of the school are being carefully cleaned and treated for mold, according to the board of education. “The school is addressing the root cause of moisture penetration which are repairs to the building envelope,” according to C. Dwayne Abt, Assistant Superintendent for Administration. “Specifically, roof leaks and deteriorated mortar joints. Repointing of the mortar has been going on over the summer and is scheduled for completion by the end of September or before. A roof contractor has started repairs and should also be finished by the start of school, weather permitting. DCPS Facilities staff also checks humidity levels throughout the building on a daily basis.”

Any questions or concerns about the ongoing repairs or interest in participating in the replacement facility planning process should be directed to Mr. Dwayne Abt, Assistant Superintendent for Administration, at 410-221-1111, ext. 1014.

Paul Clipper is the editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at pclipper@newszap.com.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.