Eradicating harmful mold in Hugo school

By: Emi FitzGerald Email
By: Emi FitzGerald Email

HUGO, OK -- A major overhaul is set to begin at the Hugo Elementary School because of mold problems. The school board held an emergency meeting Wednesday night. Members say they will spend as much as it takes to ensure their students safety.

"Whatever we have to do, we'll do it," says Tony Daugherty superintendent of schools.

The school board stands by the statement, even if it means spending $610,000 to fix a mold-ridden elementary school. A building consultant recommended the work to make sure every bit of harmful mold is gone. Installing new carpet, cleaning sheet rock, and running air quality tests are some of the items on the list.

"It makes a tough situation better so I'm glad of that," says Jessie McDaniel, a parent at the meeting.

McDaniel’s daughter Hannah started kindergarten this year. She will spend the next few months attending classes at the First Assembly of God Church. He says even though it's not an ideal situation, it's a safer environment for Hannah, who has asthma.

School officials originally planned to repair the school over Christmas break. Last week they closed the school and moved students to the First Assembly of God and the First Baptist Church of Hugo.

This week lab tests show the damage is so extensive; it will take until the end of February to make sure everything is clean.

"We're out and we're going to do it,” Daugherty says. “Before our kids go back in it will be taken care of."

School administrators say they did not have $610,000 budgeted for school repairs, but they will pay whatever is necessary. Parents say they are on board with this move.

"I hope they think of the children and get it fixed. The children need to be though about, not the money.” says Amanda Terrebonne, whose daughter Ayreona is a second grader at the school.

One point of concern is where the second graders, including Ayreona, are holding class. Administrators say the space is not adequate and are considering moving the second graders to the First Baptist Church. No decisions were made on the issue Wednesday night.

Principal Nancy Welch told the board the teachers’ biggest concern was re-entering the building for it is properly cleaned, including existing furniture. However, she said she wants the community to trust that they have the students’ best interest in mind.

"I'm real particular about my princess," McDaniel says.

With those thoughts in mind, school administrators are working hard to make sure each classroom is safe for every parent’s pride and joy. Officials debated installing portable buildings for the students, but decided to keep the children at the two churches.

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