Kingsport City Schools closing part of Annex due to mold concerns
Saturday, November 09, 2002

By J.H. Osborne
Times-News

KINGSPORT - Mold concerns have closed, at least temporarily, the part of the Kingsport City Schools Annex that houses the system's alternative school.


It means about 30 KCS students - enrolled in the system's "New Horizons" program - and another 20 or so participants in the school system's "GED +2" program will not have classes Monday.


Acting Superintendent Richard Kitzmiller said air and surface testing for mold has already begun, and some results may begin to trickle in over the weekend.


He said a decision will be made by Monday to get students back in classes by Tuesday.


Both programs affected have been located on the Annex's lower level.


Kitzmiller said the areas have been prone to odor, but recent damp weather increased moisture in the building.


"It's always smelled a little damp,'' he said. "But this latest rain started more stuff growing. It got a little worse.''


New Horizons is an alternative school program for middle and high school students in Kingsport City Schools. The program was moved to the Annex building at the beginning of the 2001-2002 school year.
The Annex building, located on the corner of Watauga and East Sevier Street, was built in 1925. It has served various functions in the past but is currently being used for various administrative functions, staff development, and the New Horizons program. Further mold testing will be conducted Monday, Kitzmiller said.


The decision to move students from the area is purely precautionary at this point, Kitzmiller said.


Only the lower level of the Annex building will be closed, but conditions for the entire building will be evaluated.


Kitzmiller said the school system hasn't had any reports of health problems associated with conditions at the Annex.


"I don't think anybody's come in with a diagnosis,'' he said. "We've seen general colds and flu-type illnesses, but no more than at any other facility, and nobody's linked it to being in a humid place.''
The Annex is not the first KCS facility to be tested, he said, but it is the only one currently being tested.


"We've investigated every alert we've had, and we don't know of any concerns anywhere else,'' Kitzmiller said.


The same contractor that tested for mold at Sullivan East High School did the work, Kitzmiller said.


"They've done swab tests and air tests,'' he said. "We'll be talking to them again on Monday, and as the test results come in we'll determine what more needs to be done.''

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