Search reveals no mold in Hawkins County schools
Friday, November 08, 2002

By Jeff Bobo
Times-News

ROGERSVILLE - In light of the black mold crisis gripping schools in Sullivan County, Hawkins County School Superintendent Tommy Dykes said he recently initiated a search for mold in his schools, which revealed his district to be "black mold free."


The only finding that created any concern was of mildew at Church Hill Middle School around some air-conditioning units in the walls with stopped-up condensation drains leaking moisture inside the building. When that was discovered, the walls in and around the affected area were scrubbed with bleach, and Dykes said he believes that prevented the problem from worsening.


Dykes attributes his district's lack of black mold to preventative maintenance, particularly when it comes to roofing.


"I've had the principals and maintenance people check their schools, especially in places where it (black mold) is most likely to grow, and thankfully we haven't found any," Dykes said. "We've got some older buildings, but we've done a lot of work on them, and for the most part they're in pretty good shape. Usually you get that (black mold) from leaks, and I've put new roofs on just about every building here since I've been superintendent, so I feel pretty confident we'll be safe for a while."


When black mold was discovered at Sullivan East High School earlier this year, Dykes said that prompted him and his principals to initiate a black mold search throughout the district. Black mold has forced the abandonment of Sullivan East for a costly cleanup, during which Sullivan East students are attending classes at Bristol Motor Speedway.


The cost of that cleanup has been estimated as high as $600,000, and recently Holston View Elementary School in the Bristol School District was also found to have black mold.


"As tight as our budget is, an expense like that would be devastating to our school district," Dykes said. "If we can keep on top of it, we won't have to deal with that."

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