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Removing mold from Fox Elementary will tap significant budget funds

RICHMOND, Va. – Richmond Public School officials gave CBS6 a tour of Fox Elementary School Monday morning to show the work crews did over the weekend to remove mold.

The DuVal’s are one of several parents and teachers at Fox Elementary who were concerned to hear about mold problems.  Last week, tests showed that there was black mold in the school's walls, ceiling and pipes.

"Hoping that we see the actual reports itself, but it's is over 100-year-old building,” said Mrs. DuVal.

Over the weekend, RPS hired crews to remove the old insulation from pipes in seven classrooms and the cafeteria. They also cleaned out the AC systems. Those were the main problem spots.

Mold at William Fox elementary

Mold at William Fox elementary

"We conducted an indoor air quality assessment,” said Tommy Kranz, the RPS Assistant Superintendent.

Kranz said RPS will spend about $80,000 on the project. That's about 5.5 percent of the school system's entire $1.5 million maintenance and repair budget, something that Kranz called significant.

"There's a number of things we need to do," Kranz said. "Because you know you have a limited budget, you have to prioritize how you're going to spend those dollars."

Kranz said work crews will be back Monday evening to re-insulate the pipes. He said they’ll re-test the air once that’s done.

"They've at least put a plan in place," DuVal said. "They've done a lot over the weekend."

For now, parents and teachers are glad to hear about the work to remove the black mold.

"They're happy to be able to breathe fresh air in the basement,” said Kim Gray with the Richmond School Board.

"Main priority at this point is that my kid gets a school that she can go to," said DuVal. "And they're doing a good job making sure that that's the type of school we've got here still."

Kranz said he's heard reports that other schools also have mold issues.  School Board Member Kim Gray agreed, and said mold is not unique to Fox Elementary.

"We have challenges in all our buildings," said Gray.

Gray said last month mold was found inside Carver Elementary School, but the levels found weren't high enough for a closure and parents were notified.

"Any mold at Carver was remediated and ceiling tiles that had visible mold were removed, insulation was removed and replaced that had moisture in it," said Gray.

Fox Elementary School parent, Scott Garnett who is also a part of Building a Better RPS movement, said this circles back to the issue of the lack of funding.

"It's been underfunded for so long that it's going to take a big effort to change this," said Garnett.

Garnett said something needs to be done.

"We need to figure out how we can get the funding for these schools and it's a big number that needs to be addressed by the Council, the Mayor," he said.

At Fox Elementary, crews may have to eventually look at other classrooms on the other floors that also seem to have mold.

There will be a community meeting for Fox Elementary parents Tuesday night at 6 p.m. for those who have questions about mold testing.