Mold at school could cost $400,000 to clean |

Mold at school could cost $400,000 to clean

Mike Pottage

It may take more than $400,000 to plug the leaks at Meyers Elementary School and clean up the bacteria, mold and mildew.

Superintendent Rich Alexander recommended Tuesday to the South Lake Tahoe Unified School District Governing Board the roof be replaced, a first of several steps he said must be taken to avoid repeated illness and complaints from students and staff.

Official estimates are not available, Alexander said, but the preliminary figure is $400,000 to put a new roof on the school. Once the leaks are stopped, Alexander said crews will go through and remove stained and damaged building materials and the carpets will be cleaned.

To do the work, Alexander said, maintenance at South Tahoe High School and at Bijou Community School will be postponed.

“The No. 1 thing we need to do is fix that roof,” Alexander said. “There have been issues with the Meyers roof for many years.”

Alexander said when it appeared the leaks were fostering growth of mold and mildew, and in turn causing allergic reactions among staff and children, the district had the buildings inspected and tested.

What inspectors found was a higher concentration of bacteria inside the classrooms than was found outdoors. Tests on mold and mildew came back with mixed results.

The bacteria found is common to people, but apparently the organisms liked the combination of moisture and carpets, and multiplied.

Along with testing, a task force including staff, parents, health personnel and administrators launched an investigation of the complaints and building status.

The roof contains about 30,000 square feet, and Alexander said “is going to be very expensive to replace.”

He said staff asked about creating a new, pitched roof to replace the flat roof, but were told by architects it would be more costly to engineer than it would be to build a new school.

“Building a flat roof in Tahoe,” Alexander remarked, “really makes little sense.”

In addition to a new roof cover, engineers are designing new flashing, water courses and drainage. The existing roof is only 10 years old.

Alexander said work will be done on two portable classrooms to patch leaks, and carpets will be ripped out and replaced.

He said he has held off on a decision to replace carpets in the school buildings until the roof is replaced.

“Then” he said, “we will retest.”

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