Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Alyssa Erdley
Observer Staff 

Mold at Santa Monica John Muir Elementary/SMASH School Campus Causes Relocation of All Students and Staff

Two rooms with unacceptable levels of mold and eleven rooms had water damage that could mean mold growth

 

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John Muir Elementary School on 4th Street in Santa Monica

June 10, 2022 - For at least one school year, if not more, the entire campus of Muir Elementary/Smash on 4th Street in Santa Monica will be evacuated. The decision to relocate students and staff came after a May 24 report by Alta Environmental NV5 that found two rooms with unacceptable levels of mold and eleven rooms with water damage that could mean mold growth. One room had visible mold growing behind the dry erase board. The high spore level in the other room was deemed "likely originated from the outdoors, or from plants that may have been inside the space."

For the 2022-23 school year, students and staff will be moved to other Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District campuses. According to a school board presentation, the majority of Muir students will be moved to Will Rogers Elementary, which, with a projected enrollment of 382 students, has the capacity for 600 total. Families may fill out an intra-district permit application to move to a different school in the district than Will Rogers, including one of the two elementary schools in Malibu. SMASH students will move to the Obama Center. The Project Based Learning program, Olympic High School, and Independent Study would like to move to the Santa Monica College campus but this is not a "done deal," according to the presentation. Agreements would need to be negotiated with the college, students and staff would need to follow SMC safety and Covid rules and sign a waiver to be on a college campus.

The district presentation admitted that previous repair attempts to prevent leaking had been unsuccessful, including roofing, window, and deck repairs. The repairs needed now are expected to take "years" to complete. If students and staff had been allowed to stay on the Muir/SMASH campus, they would have endured partial closures of the campus while construction ensued and "consistent testing" would have had to occur to ensure safety.

Over the summer, destructive investigative work should reveal the scope of the repair project and if any of the buildings on the affected campus will need to be rebuilt entirely.

SMMUSD Response to Mold Story

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Children dancing at Will Rogers Elementary School near Santa Monica College

The first paragraph of your story does not reflect the reason for the relocation. It's due to a water intrusion issue. This letter better explains the situation: https://www.smmusd.org/cms/lib/CA50000164/Centricity/Domain/1792/Drati-MuirSMASHFacility051722.pdf

To make sure it was safe to be in classrooms the last few weeks of school, the district arranged for the testing report, that did reflect mold in one room.

The report deemed that the campus was safe for the school year balance. The one room with mold was moved.

We have to relocate students and staff to properly investigate and take care of the water intrusion issue.

Will they find more mold in the walls? That is a possibility. We will share all the findings after the deeper investigation.—Gail Pinker, SMMUSD

 

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