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Toxic Mold Causes Delay to School Year in Yet Another Consequence of Disinvestment in NC Public Schools

Source: The News & Observer

The Alamance-Burlington School System had to delay the start of the school year two times due to toxic mold present in at least 25 of its 37 schools. 

Classes were scheduled to begin in August and were then delayed to Sept. 5 after the initial discovery of mold in schools. After mold was found in even more schools, the start of the school year was pushed again to Sept. 11.

Alamance County commissioners have allocated $17 million for cleanup efforts, which includes hiring professional remediation experts trained to remove the mold and an industrial hygienist to certify the air quality in the school buildings is safe for occupancy.

The Alamance-Burlington School System is not alone in its need for massive improvements to its school facilities. According to the 2020 Facility Needs Survey, North Carolina public school districts need $12.8 billion over the next five years to build, improve, or repair their facilities.

In Wake County, students from three high schools were sent home early during the first week of September because of HVAC systems that were not working at full capacity. 

A nationwide survey of educators showed that at least 1 in 5 report dealing with plumbing issues (24%) and leaky ceilings (21%) in their school, while 15% say rodents are a major problem and 9% report dealing with mold.

Despite the widespread need for further investment in public schools, Republicans on the state Supreme Court have worked to block increased funding for North Carolina schools. And instead of passing a state budget that could increase public education investment, Republicans in the state legislature have chosen to prioritize private school vouchers for millionaires and targeting vulnerable children

“This intentional, strategic disinvestment is the result of the Republican obsession with low taxes and a disdain for public schools,” Mebane resident Matthew Teal wrote in a News & Observer letter to the editor. “Don’t be surprised if elected Republicans point to this disaster of their own creation as yet another excuse to fund “school choice” alternatives.”

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