The Klamath-Trinity Joint Unified School District in California has spent about $65 million since 2014 because of outdated building codes and delay in dealing with mold issues, District Administration reports.
Changes in administration can cause important maintenance issues, such as mold, to go unchecked for too long, resulting in health problems for students and staff in addition to spiraling repair costs.
The appointment of a health and safety committee to help track student health complaints can help the school district keep track of health concerns that may signal a problem with building maintenance.
The old adage “A stitch in time saves nine” aptly applies to issues such as the development of mold and other maintenance concerns in schools. This problem can easily occur, especially in areas of high humidity or in the wake of plumbing issues or natural disasters. However, it can also be easily addressed if handled right away. Delay can cause massive costs for school districts in terms of repairs, as well as more sick days for both teachers and students.
Fortunately, there are several sources of help available to help school districts know how to address this common issue. The National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities has established guidelines on how to deal with mold issues in schools. The Environmental Protection Agency has also published a Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings Guide to help address the problem. School districts can benefit from making sure that maintenance crews are instructed in how to identify and treat mold problems before they become a major problem for students, staff and buildings.
Sometimes the first clue to a hidden mold problem is an increase in problems with student health, especially students afflicted with asthma, allergies, headaches or chronic respiratory issues. The use of district-wide electronic health records may make tracking of these complaints easier and may also aid administrators in decisions regarding nutrition and exercise options in the schools. The establishment of a health and safety committee to oversee these issues can also help schools keep better track of problems, even as administrators move on to other opportunities.