IN­SIDE: Mold con­cerns grow among Stam­ford par­ents.

Stamford Advocate - - Front Page - By Erin Kay­ata erin.kay­ata@stam­for­dad­vo­; 203-964-2265; @er­in_kay­ata

STAM­FORD — It was the same mold story for dozens of par­ents who at­tended a packed meet­ing of the mold task force on Wed­nes­day night.

Teach­ers cited notes from doc­tors warn­ing them not to re­turn to work be­cause of the risk mold poses to their health. Staff mem­bers com­plained about brown ceil­ing tiles get­ting painted over and not prop­erly re­paired.

A par­ent men­tioned black ceil­ing tiles in a Stillmeadow El­e­men­tary School class­room and an­other com­plained of get­ting wa­tery eyes when walk­ing by the por­ta­ble class­rooms at New­field El­e­men­tary School.

Other par­ents’ eyes wa­tered with tears when re­call­ing the symp­toms their chil­dren ex­pe­ri­enced over the years and now re­al­ize it could have been re­ac­tions to mold.

“I know ten­sions are high,” said Mike Han­dler, Stam­ford’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer and mem­ber of a mold task force the city has es­tab­lished to ad­dress the prob­lem.

“I know peo­ple are upset. If over the years you’ve been com­plain­ing and say­ing things are not OK and you’ve been told you are OK or that they’re fixed and the things you’re see­ing are a fig­ment of your imag­i­na­tion…the task force is here to tell you they’re not a fig­ment of your imag­i­na­tion. We’re aware there are se­ri­ous prob­lems in our schools and we ac­cept the chal­lenge as a task force to bring you real so­lu­tions.”

As­sur­ances from Han­dler and Deputy Su­per­in­ten­dent of Schools Tamu Lucero about the safety of cer­tain rooms and build­ings did not sat­isfy the packed room of par­ents who have chil­dren at Westover Mag­net El­e­men­tary School, Westhill High School, Stillmeadow and New­field.

“You’re deal­ing with peo­ple who have heard it all,” one par­ent said. “While peo­ple want to be­lieve in our pub­lic school sys­tem and want to be­lieve in some of the new ad­min­is­tra­tors that are down­town and want to be­lieve in you, it’s hard when year af­ter year things have not got­ten done. I un­der­stand what you’re say­ing, the past is the past. We all want to be­lieve that, but at the end of the day, when Stam­ford Pub­lic Schools has lost the trust of its teach­ers, its par­ents, its com­mu­’s not that is­sues are not go­ing to come up. It’s how it’s han­dled.”

Westover par­ents had ad­di­tional con­cerns about the safety and se­cu­rity of their chil­dren fol­low­ing the city’s de­ci­sion to move stu­dents to an Elm­croft Road prop­erty, which used to house Pit­ney Bowes head­quar­ters in the South End. Westover stu­dents will move there on Tues­day while their school is cleaned of mold and re­paired.

Han­dler said stu­dents will share the build­ing, owned by Build­ing and Land Tech­nol­ogy, with about 100 em­ploy­ees. He said they will share a lobby and en­trance un­til a sep­a­rate door­way is built for the stu­dents.

Po­lice will guide the 700 stu­dents to the build­ing’s third floor, which will be con­verted into class­rooms.

How­ever, many par­ents were not sat­is­fied with the plan. They were par­tic­u­larly upset that their chil­dren would be marked ab­sent if they did not feel com­fort­able send­ing them to the new fa­cil­ity.

New­field par­ents were con­cerned about black mold grow­ing in their chil­dren’s school, the por­ta­ble class­rooms be­ing shut down and stu­dents hav­ing class in the au­di­to­rium, which has high mold counts.

Erin Kay­ata / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Westover Mag­net El­e­men­tary School in Stam­ford be­ing re­me­di­ated for mold on Tues­day.

Con­trib­uted photo

The clean­ing and re­me­di­a­tion of Westover Mag­net El­e­men­tary School in Stam­ford on Oct. 30. District of­fi­cials an­nounced they would be clos­ing the school in­def­i­nitely to re­me­di­ate mold and ren­o­vate the school for wa­ter in­fil­tra­tion.

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