Mold Still an Issue at Caldwell Elementary

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CALDWELL, Texas - With the clock ticking on the start of another school year, Caldwell ISD officials say there may not be enough time to clean up the mold found inside the elementary school before the first bell rings.

Caldwell board members planned to announce the company they're contracting with to get the mold cleaned out of the school at Tuesday night's meeting, but cleanup has yet to begin.

Caldwell ISD Superintendent Dr. Timothy Cuff said the holdup isn't because they've been idle during the Summer months. He said between the district and the lawyers, the road to cleanup is a long one.

"It's just amazing at how much paperwork there has to be," said Cuff. "And believe me, I've been frustrated too with the whole system. But everybody has to make sure that everything is in place, because, when the job is done, we want it done right."

Mold was discovered in some of the school classrooms in March. It was determined to be non toxic, but some of the students had complained of headaches and unexplained rashes. The school was shut down before the school year ended, and students were moved to area churches.

The school is on a suspended foundation. Cuff said over time, water collected underneath the foundation and some of it seeped through tiny cracks in the floor, causing the mold issue.

"Now, what we'll be doing is extracting the water out through dehumidifiers, and keeping it pretty dry under there," said Cuff.

Cuff hoped the process of cleanup and renovation would be completed by the start of this school year, but now he has his doubts.

"Can I one hundred percent guarantee it? I can't. I wish I could," said Cuff.

Cuff said the remediation, or cleaning process, is phase one. Phase two will cover any renovations that need to be made. The school board will announce a contract with a different company for phase two at next Tuesday's meeting.

Cuff said their plan B involves housing students at the same area churches for one to two weeks while the process is completed.

The total cost for cleanup and renovation will run about $1 million. Most or all of that money will come from a $5.7 million bond passed by voters in May.