Report finds high levels of mold at Santa Monica Elementary School

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John Muir/SMASH campus faces high levels of mold and water damage

By Dolores Quintana

Students and teachers were removed from a Santa Monica Elementary School classroom due to high mold counts. Upon inspection, the back of the classroom whiteboard was found to be “pretty well covered in mold.”

This report indicates that the mold levels in 19 of the 21 classrooms tested were within the acceptable range, but two of the classrooms had mold density that was double the levels found in the outdoor air.

In one of the classrooms, room 415, students and teachers were pulled out because mold levels were so high. Upon inspection, the back of the classroom whiteboard turned out to be “pretty well covered in mold,” according to Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) operations manager Carey Upton. Upton was speaking at a May 19 meeting.

SMMUSD officials announced further findings last week when they released a 131-page report of extensive water damage at the Muir/SMASH campus, located at 2526 6th Street. The report states that the problem stems from poor construction, age of the building, exposure, proper maintenance that has been deferred, and faulty and improper installation of building materials, including recent works that have been carried out on the building.

The report also found evidence of “hidden” mold growth concealed in the wall cavity of one of the school’s locations.

The SMMUSD Board of Directors is committed to finding the source of the water damage, carrying out repairs, identifying the severity of the mold problem and completing site decontamination to safeguard the health and safety of staff and students.

NV5 consultants recommended that anyone susceptible to mold stay away from potentially contaminated rooms, that porous materials, such as drywall and insulation, be removed, and that a contractor who takes care of the mold removal be hired.

It is unclear how much these actions will cost the district as the investigation is not yet complete.

Despite this, the SMMUSD board has already approved $55,000 to begin the mold remediation process and offered a contract to a company to perform weekly testing.

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