Source: http://www.nj.com, October 10, 2017
By: Chris Franklin
The mold controversy that has become a concern for many residents who live in the Monroe Township School District found its way to the Williamstown High School auditorium Monday. The hall, which holds over 1,020 people was so packed that the township fire marshal had to tell people to line up outside in the hallways.
Earlier in the day, the school district announced that the every school in the district will be closed for the rest of the week as outside contractors begin surveying the school and seeing if mold is above acceptable levels in the district’s six buildings. The Holly Glen Elementary School was closed last Thursday after mold counts were deemed excessive.
The emergency Monroe Township Board of Education meeting was at times contentious. In a scene that resembled a rally, parents and students in the crowd voiced their displeasure, trying to find out the cause of the mold and asking questions as to how long the board knew about the mold as well as who should be held responsible.
TTI Environmental and All Risk are the two companies that will be working together to remove the mold and clean the buildings. TTI Environmental Vice President of Consulting Timothy Popp was at the meeting to go over the process of how the buildings will be inspected and tested for mold while All Risk Senior Vice President Lou Crisei said a crew of 40 to 50 people would be brought in to clean. TTI would then come back in and retest to make sure it is safe.
“The process of checking each building’s air quality takes time,” said Monroe School District Superintendent Charles Earling. “It is something that just doesn’t happen overnight. That is the reason why we will not be in session for the rest of the week.”
Earling went on to say that as soon as the buildings are confirmed to be safe, staff will be given a day to get the classrooms back and functional while students would report the next morning. Although the cost of the cleanup is not finalized, Earling said it would be paid through the surplus in the budget and the insurance policy.
The school board also announced the formation of the Air Quality Task Force. The task force is currently made up of teachers, union leaders and school district personnel. There are plans to add community members to the task force.
“The task force was put together from three separate unions for information and to keep this from happening again,” said Victor Heggan, vice president of the Monroe Township Federation of Teachers Union Hall Local 3391. “We also wanted to make sure there was quality testing and get the factual information out to the public,” Heggan added. “We want to stop this from happening again.”
Brianna Bentley, a 17-year-old senior at Williamstown High School, said she hopes that the district can fix the problem
“It sucks because our school is known as the school with mold and everyone has something to say about it,” Bentley said. “It is our senior year, and we have to deal with this. I hope that the district can fix it and make it better so that we do not have to transfer to other schools and ruin our last year here. This is a disgrace.”
“It is kind of disgusting,” said Williamstown High School freshman Sam Barber. Barber, who previously attended Williamstown Middle School, was diagnosed with severe migraines and allergies. He hopes that if it was caused by the mold, it is cleaned up thoroughly.
“That it all be taken care of, and we can come back to school safely and there will be no mold or anything, and it will be better than it was last time,” Barber added. “Hopefully they can get things together.”