Ongoing concerns over the leaking roof at Lee Avenue School in Hicksville led to a parent meeting Tuesday, Oct. 17 to discuss results of a bioaerosol microbial survey that a private environmental engineering company recently performed upon the district's request.
Heavy rains flooded the school in September, pouring through the roof, which had been under construction since late August. Carpets and ceiling tiles were soaked.
Holzmacher, McLendon & Murrell, known as the Melville-based H2M Environmental Group, performed an air quality test October 4 in order to identify conditions that may be affecting student and faculty comfort in several areas of the building.
Areas tested included the teachers' lounge, all purpose room, the hallway in front of the all purpose room, the girls' locker room, the stairwell landing opposite the girls bathroom, and rooms 110, 111, 203, 206 and 213.
The results, which district officials received late Oct. 12, showed acceptable levels of bacteria and fungal organisms in all questionable areas except one, room 203, which had slightly elevated levels of fungi. Also, tests revealed air stagnation in the all purpose room, girls locker room, classrooms 110 and 206 and a probable moisture problem in room 203.
"The test looks for bacteria and fungal organisms and the spores they produce," Charles Erlanger, an industrial hygienist, H2M Environmental Group, said. "Based upon these findings, I felt that it was more of a ventilation problem than anything else. Organisms were coming into the building but they weren't getting filtered out."
After discussing this with Hicksville Superintendent Edward Finn and Facilities and Operations Director Thomas Shaw, necessary steps are being taken to correct the ventilation situation.
Dr. Finn said he is doing everything he can to maintain the school's safety and district administrators have opted to continue monitoring the building. The H2M Group plans on re-testing these same areas Friday, Oct. 20, according to Erlanger. This latest air quality test was one of several performed at the school since September.
Since school opened, parents claim their children have gotten sick from the building's structural damage and the district hasn't reacted fast enough or appropriately. Some parents, like Karen Adams and Eileen Assante, are even home tutoring their children because they don't feel it's safe enough for them to return to the elementary school, although all tests thus far have proved the school's mold to be nontoxic.
Peter DaLuca, senior manager, Health and Safety, BOCES, said, "The district has responded appropriately. When the leaks occurred, they were addressed immediately. You don't want water standing because it can lead to mold problems."
Nassau County Health Department Spokesperson Bryan Matthews, complaint supervisor, said Tuesday night the department has agreed to stay involved for air quality's sake. "Original calls came in with concern to whether the damaged ceiling tiles had asbestos," Matthews said. "Although the tests came back negative, we do have quite a bit of experience with air quality and decided to remain involved."
Thomas Shaw, director, facilities and operations, said Tuesday night the district replaced water-damaged ceiling tiles immediately as well as carpets in the kindergarten room and faculty lunchroom. Some parents, however, claimed several of the damaged tiles were painted over - not replaced. Shaw had no comment but promised further investigation.
The H2M Group made several recommendations after receiving the air quality test results:
* Investigate the univent system in each classroom to remedy any possible ventilation problems;
* Investigate the hall exhaust system throughout the entire school building as well;
* Maintain thorough cleaning practices in all areas of the building;
* Consider controlled spraying of an approved biocide throughout the plenum areas and the wall areas of the entire building; and
* Investigate the moisture problem in room 203, taking necessary action to remedy the situation.