Sylvania's Central Elementary School has poor ventilation, allergens above the level of those in outdoor air, standing water on the roof, and water damage in some areas that has resulted in mold, according to a report given yesterday to school board members.
The board ordered the school closed last month after some pupils and teachers complained of rashes and respiratory ailments.
Christine Bisesi of Enviro-Health, Inc., the company the school system hired to investigate potential environmental causes of the problems, recommended that the board hire an environmental health contractor to conduct a more thorough investigation of the building and a contractor to evaluate the overall integrity of the ventilation system.
Ms. Bisesi pointed out that the building at King Road and Central Avenue was built in 1929 and has been remodeled five times. She said that has led to a complicated ventilation system, adding that the structure has a history of water damage.
The problems identified so far, she said, may not be the only environmental problems in the building.
Where you see mold “on the wall is sometimes only a little of what's behind the wall.”
Until now, there has not been a thorough enough investigation to find pathways for allergens that may be above false ceilings or in crawl spaces.
Michael Bisesi, also of Enviro-Health, said that if the problems identified are corrected, “you will have a guarantee of a decreasing probability” of the exhibited health problems, but he added that there is no guarantee beyond that.
He told the board that “you won't ever have a sterile environment.”
Ms. Bisesi said that, “unfortunately, it is very common to not find just one cause” of an environmental problem in a building.
Cynthia Durdel, assistant superintendent, told the board she appointed about 12 people to a Central Advisory Group to consider recommendations for the school.
George Gernot, a school board member, asked if it is the best move to address the identified environmental problems when still others might be discovered through a more detailed examination.
Mr. Bisesi said that, “at some point, you'll have to make a decision,” adding that having an independent advisory group analyze alternatives for the board is a good idea.
Children who attended kindergarten at Central are now attending Maplewood Elementary School; first and second graders are going to classrooms at Emmanuel Baptist Church on Laskey Road, and third, fourth, and fifth graders are going to school in a building used until recently as Evergreen High School in Metamora.
During the first day of school at the Evergreen building, six children each reported having a rash, but three of those were questionable, according to Nancy Crandell, director of communications for the school system.
She said there have been no reports of rashes in the last two days.
An informational meeting for parents of children who attended the closed school has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Burnham Building, 6850 Monroe