MANCHESTER — After scores of parents raised concerns earlier this year about the air quality at Manchester Elementary School, Regional School Unit 38 officials spent more than $100,000 to improve the conditions at the aging school.

“We followed the plan we developed with parents and the facilities committee,” Superintendent Donna Wolfrom said. “We’ve done what we said we were going to do.”

During the summer, the district installed unit ventilators in 12 classrooms that didn’t have them, and according to several parents, the air quality has improved.

Craig and Stephanie Garofalo’s daughter Lydia was sick several times during the last school year. Her symptoms included wheezing, coughing and headaches. Stephanie Garofalo said Lydia had been sick within the first few weeks of school the past few years, but it has been different this year.

“She hasn’t missed a day of school this year,” Stephanie Garofalo said. “(The changes) have been extremely positive this year.”

The school, which opened in 1952, first came under parents’ scrutiny in January, but the problems had started several months earlier. According to an October 2016 email, a school nurse alerted the administration about a bad smell in the basement.

Air quality testing was completed that November, and the district’s former director of operations and transportation was told there was “no immediate risk,” though subsequent testing showed elevated mold spores. The basement was remediated twice and several classrooms were cleaned thoroughly.

Wolfrom sent a letter to parents Nov. 28, 2016, 13 days after the district received the first air quality report, stating the classrooms were dusty; but the letter didn’t mention any mold in any classroom. It wasn’t until after the basement was remediated and the classrooms were cleaned last December that the school officially acknowledged the presence of mold in the classrooms.

Since then, district officials and parents developed a communication plan, and Wolfrom said the district has followed that plan. She said she hasn’t heard any complaints from anyone.

A parent, Jeremy Payne, had been an outspoken critic of the district’s communication and transparency, which he says has improved.

“There is now consistent and sustained outreach to the community to let parents and staff know what is going on and what the plan is, as well as periodic updates,” Payne said last week by email.

Wolfrom, who is leaving to become superintendent in Cape Elizabeth after the school year ends, said there are no plans to replace the building.

“We have some roofs that need repair and several other large projects that need to be done,” Wolfrom said. “It’s something we’ve talked about for several years, and that process has started.”

Craig Garofalo, a member of the district’s building committee said Manchester Elementary is looking at between $1 million and $1.5 million to replace the heating and air conditioning systems.

Jason Pafundi can be contacted at 621-5663 or at:

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