Friday, February 23, 2024

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ABSS received nearly $1M settlement to fix leaky roofs at schools with reported mold

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The Alamance-Burlington school system had received an $890,000 settlement in 2018 to settle a lawsuit against Dow Roofing Systems.

Proceeds from the settlement were to have been used to repair the roofs at five ABSS schools – including at Cummings High and Broadview Middle schools, where testing for mold began this week.

The five schools identified in the 2018 settlement agreement had new roofs installed in the mid-2000s; ABSS officials later attributed years of ongoing roof leaks at those schools to defective roofing materials that degraded over time. In addition to Broadview and Cummings, the other three schools that were subject to the settlement included: E.M. Holt Elementary School; Graham Middle School; and the Sellars-Gunn Education Center.

School officials said at the time that the proceeds from the settlement with Dow Roofing would be supplemented with $907,560 in state education lottery proceeds and $1.9 in county capital reserve funds in order to repair or replace defective roofs at the five schools.

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School board members had voted unanimously at a special-called meeting in June 2018 to pay Baker Roofing of Raleigh $2.3 million to replace the roof at Broadview Middle School and at Cummings High School.

In addition to violations at Cummings, Alamance County environmental health specialists cited violations for problems related to water damage during subsequent inspections of another school that was subject to the 2018 roofing settlement, Graham Middle School (see related story, this edition).

On June 29, 2023, a report from an annual site visit to Graham Middle School stated, “Observed water damaged ceiling tiles in rooms 117, 142, and other rooms throughout. Observed missing ceiling tiles in boys restroom across from cafeteria, custodian closet across from room 135A/B, girls library bathroom, [another custodian closet] and both boys and girls bathroom in 100s hall and across from cafeteria custodian closet…Work to repair leaks in the facility so that microbial growth is kept down to a minimum.”

Graham Middle School was also cited twice for identical violations on June 28, 2022 and on June 30, 2021 – due to stained ceiling tiles and “pipe penetrations in ceilings” in classrooms. The school had been issued violations for ceiling tiles “throughout the school damaged from leaks, or missing and [needing] to be replaced,” by inspectors during annual site visits to Graham Middle School on June 5, 2019 and May 16, 2018, based on annual reports that are on file with the county’s environmental health division.

While mold is naturally present in the environment, factors such as moisture, humidity, and lack of sunlight can contribute to the growth of mold spores that can be harmful to some individuals, particularly those with compromised immune systems or other underlying health conditions, according to the Institute for the Environment at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

ABSS superintendent Dr. Dain Butler said this week that school board members will discuss hiring an outside firm to conduct air quality testing and assess roofing systems at all ABSS schools at their next meeting on Monday night, August 28.

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