Concerns about mold continue to be an issue in Cherokee County Schools.
Thursday night, the school district hosted a community meeting to present the results of an air quality test that was released earlier this week and answer the community’s questions.
Several parents and even a student spoke about their concerns. They said they wanted to see more thorough tests and want to see results quicker. They also said there is fear among the teachers about voicing their worries over environmental issues.
In the wake of social media outcry, Cherokee County School District hired contractor JMAC Environmental to test the air quality in schools. JMAC gathered 180 samples from all 21 schools in the district. One sample tested positive for toxic black mold, according to JMAC’s report.
At Thursday night’s meeting, parents said the testing didn’t go far enough.
“They should have tested every room in every school,” parent Dawn Scruggs said.
John McNamara of JMAC said he didn’t have time to go through all 1,200 rooms in the district’s schools.
Others questioned the independence of JMAC, who has performed services for the district in years past. When a parent asked about the bidding process to award the contract, Superintendent Dr. Quincie Moore didn’t have an answer.
However, she did speak about budget constrains. She said a 2013 study found that the schools needed $200 million worth of work and that six schools needed to be replaced. She said they replaced two schools and invested $67 million in improvements.
Parents recounted concerns about classroom conditions.They tell 7 News their kids become sick when they’re at school, but are well when school’s out. Parent Natalie Jolly recounts the symptoms of “the mold cold” she says her daughter has: “The snotty nose, raspy voice, drainage, just generally not feeling good,” Jolly said.
Dr. Moore said she is taking up JMAC’s recommendations to improve conditions in school buildings.
Others raised concerns about transparency. Some people say teachers are being intimidated to keep silent about environmental concerns with the threat of job loss and lawsuits.
During the meeting, Dr. Moore promised that teachers would not face legal action for voicing their concerns. Dr. Moore also said the safety of the staff and students is of the upmost importance.