Now we face the prospect of mold at Farallone View Elementary School. Cunha Intermediate School’s beleaguered C Building — only recently reopened after mold mitigation there — is apparently without heat. Administrators are concerned enough about lead in the water at Cabrillo Unified schools that they plan to install a filtration system. And that was before Monday’s announcement from San Mateo County about coronavirus and travel from China. Meanwhile, teachers would like a raise even as the Coastside district envisions cutting the buses that ferry low-income kids to school.
If you thought the problems at Cabrillo Unified School District ended with passage of last year’s parcel tax, the last week provided ample evidence to the contrary. In many ways, this is becoming another difficult year for local schools and the people who depend upon them, which is all of us.
Now, take a deep breath. The good news is that none of this is new, exactly.
To be sure, there have been some Cabrillo missteps that felt as if school officials were tripping over their own feet. The closure of Cunha C Building and subsequent mold problems at Hatch Elementary School occurred in new construction. They were lapses in management in the moment. By contrast, current facilities issues may be a matter of long-standing maintenance issues rather than new failures. That may be cold comfort to parents who pay taxes and expect their schools to be safe from environmental hazards, but it is a distinction worth making.
And some of these problems are pervasive in California schools elsewhere. While the code says that visible mold can lead to a determination of substandard housing, and there
is ample evidence that its
presence is a health concern, mold is everywhere, particularly in our damp coastal environment. There is no science-
based rule for exposure to mold in California regulations. The Department of Public Health gave up on that 15 years ago — after a government report that found the majority of California schools surveyed had signs of moisture intrusion or mold.
Cold classrooms are unacceptable, but also fixable. The problems at Building C are an extension of that original botched construction project. School
officials assure us the heat
situation is being addressed. The busing debate is a result of ongoing budget problems. The district has to cut hundreds of thousands of dollars from somewhere, and while we
don’t think taking away the
ride of those who need it most is the best answer, we understand the rationale, which is keeping the cuts out of the classroom.
The Cabrillo Unified School District may be the single most important public institution on the coast. A thriving, successful school system is important to every man, woman and child living on the San Mateo County coast. Let’s acknowledge the maintenance problems, resolve to keep our kids safe, and work together to improve local schools.
— Clay Lambert