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August 1, 2002 - Schools Remodeled Due To Toxic Mold

There is a demolition project happening in several South Florida schools where workers are ripping down ceilings. Floors and walls are being torn down, not for remodeling, but for rehabilitation.

Riverside Elementary in Coral Springs and four other Broward County schools are getting needed repairs this summer for mold damage. The schools are filled with what inspectors say is potentially toxic mold. Some parents have said the fungus is making their children sick. Students have complained that the ceilings in several classrooms at Riverside leaked, and since it rained nearly every day in June, the ceilings became covered with mold.

Stephanie Kraft's daughter spent the school year in a classroom at Riverside. Kraft said the students were exposed to mold every day. "The doctors said it was probably mold and mildew as well as other allergies -- but at the time we didn't realize the problem here at Riverside," said Kraft. Some parents took their kids out of the school, and now construction work is going on to repair the mold problem.

The school board authorized that the school be literally ripped apart to fix it. Riverside is just one of 155 schools where the board found that mold was a problem -- though most were not as bad as Riverside, which is one of four schools to get a complete makeover. The Coral Springs school board is spending millions of dollars to fix the problem. Doctors say anyone that is exposed to mold on a regular basis can develop respiratory problems. "Some people are allergic to mold spores," said Dr. Milton Braunstein of Broward General. "They get coughs (or) shortness of breath." Tom Calhoun is overseeing the repair work. "We've got a team that goes out and does assessment to make sure that we get at the problem quickly," he said. The schools are rushing to have the repairs completed by the start of school next month.

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