Mold found at Longfellow Elementary School in Portland

NOW: Mold found in Portland elementary school

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Portland Public Schools superintendent Xavier Botana said Wednesday that the district is waiting for test results from a possible mold growth found in one of Longfellow Elementary School's hallways.

Botana said the mold is in a hallway that connects the back of the school to the gymnasium and the cafeteria.

Parents found the mold last Tuesday during a PTO meeting. Botana said the school called in a company to test the substance. They also took infrared photographs and culture swabs, and also tested the air quality. They believe it is mold, but will not know for sure until the tests come back at the end of the week.

Two other schools in Maine tested positive for mold in 2017: Hall-Dale Elementary School in Farmingdale in June, and Manchester Elementary in January.

"I wasn't surprised by this," said Erin Hutton, a Longfellow parent. "Really what they need is the finances to actually support and mitigate the mold, so I hope everybody votes for all four schools."

"Things like this happen. So when you find out about it, you just have to figure out a way to deal with it," said Patryk Drozd, whose two children attend Longfellow.

The organization "Protect Our Neighborhood Schools," a group that is campaigning for all four schools (Lyseth, Presumpscot, Reiche, and Longfellow) to be renovated through a bond in this November's election, said this mold is one more reason why all the schools needs to be updated. A separate ballot question proposes that only Lyseth and Presumpscot get funds. The bond for all four would be for $64 million. The bond for two school would be for $31 million.

"We love the schools. The Longfellow community I know is the same way. The buildings are not fit for 21st-century learning and now we know seeing with this mold, that they are posing potential health and safety risks," said Emily Figdor, director of Protect Our Neighborhood Schools.

Opponents of the bonds argue state funding would reduce taxpayer burden.

"53 new schools have applied that we would have to compete against. Our students can't wait 5, 6, or 8 years," said Mayor Ethan Strimling. 

Portland had previously submitted Longfellow and Reiche schools in the last two phases of state, and both times the school's were in the five schools below the cutoff. School funding phases are on an inconsistent basis, according to Botana.

"As a school district we believe that all four schools need to be repaired so that's beyond question for us," said Botana. "The timing of those repairs is up to the voters to decide. If not all four schools now -- if we have two schools, then we'll do the two school and then work to get the other two schools on as well."

The mold has many parents thinking about the future of the school.

"It's worth the investment. There's more to a school than just the building obviously, but certainly you start with that as your bare minimum," said Nicole Carey.

Botana said that removing whatever the substance is should not take long and should not disrupt student learning. 

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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