EDITORIAL

We could use some fresh air

Posted

Fire alarms at Norwood and Holliman Schools are operational and lines have been cleared at Vets so waste water flowing to one of the school’s septic systems isn’t backing up into an art classroom. The outrage of parents and teachers that the school administration failed to take adequate steps to protect the safety and health of students has simmered down.

But it’s not over and won’t be until the school administration is more proactive and transparent in addressing facility deficiencies.

Next on the list of concerns is air quality at Vets Junior High School. Tests performed by an outside contractor documented levels of carbon dioxide in various classrooms at different times. In some cases the numbers fluctuated dramatically although none reached thresholds deemed as being excessive or dangerous. Had windows been left open in some classes, throwing off what might have been higher readings throughout the school? Had some rooms been more heavily used and hence resulted in higher readings?

There wasn’t an explanation, which actually may be difficult to give. That said release of the report should have been accompanied by an analysis of the findings in laymen’s terms and a plan of action from the administration. Instead, we’re moving to phase two of the study – testing for mold.

We were told the reason this test wasn’t performed with the first round of tests is that the company had to wait until warmer weather to obtain accurate comparisons between interior and exterior air samples. That seems to make sense, although since there was no indication that mold tests would have to wait until the spring, this takes on the appearance of a delay tactic. And with spring weather, classroom windows will be willingly opened and everyone will breathe easier.

Was that the plan, conspiracy theorists will ask?

Wish that we might that this is the end of school building problems; it’s not. There are concerns over Norwood classroom windows that don’t open to their full extend that would allow students and parents to evacuate and flaking paint at the school that has tested for lead.

That’s just Norwood.

It’s not that school officials are blind to these conditions. An evaluation of all buildings with an extensive list of needed maintenance and upgrades was compiled for a proposed $85 million school bond. That bond request never made it to the Council floor, as Finance Committee Chair Ed Ladouceur wants to first see the state’s list of proposed improvements and what that might cost. The state Department of Education is expected to release its report next month.

Meanwhile, deficiencies and issues are going to keep popping up. Some will be valid, others we suspect, will be more of an aesthetic nature than legitimate concerns for safety and health.

All need to be checked out.

That message should be made clear as well as the results of corrective action if appropriate.

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