Group Says St. Charles High in Good Shape, despite Problems

Article excerpt

Byline: Alicia Fabbre Daily Herald Staff Writer

There's no denying St. Charles High School has its fair share of problems.

The roof leaks. There's some mold in the building. And, the air circulation isn't the best.

But, overall, things aren't as bad as they could be. And the problems that do exist are being addressed, officials from a federal safety group said Friday.

"The school does have some problems," said Greg Burr, an industrial hygienist from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. "But my overall impression of the school is relatively good ... I've seen a lot worse schools."

Three NIOSH inspectors concluded their testing at St. Charles High School Friday. The group interviewed 35 teachers, surveyed 26 classrooms, examined the school's ventilation system and checked above ceiling tiles for mold.

Teachers requested the NIOSH investigation to help determine the cause of their health complaints. In the past several months, they have complained of a variety of symptoms - including sinus infections, itchy eyes and sore throats - while in the south building at St. Charles High School.

NIOSH officials didn't find a "smoking gun" to point to as the cause of the complaints. Instead, they found a series of problems - like minor mold growth in a couple of spots or poor ventilation in some classrooms - that could cause health complaints.

During their closing interview with a group of parents, teachers and school administrators Friday, NIOSH offered a series of initial recommendations to help improve the situation.

NIOSH urged school officials and parents to:

- Conduct an assessment of the ventilation system to determine what improvements are needed.

- Continue with roof repairs to seal all leaks.

- Improve communications between all groups involved in the issue. …