Mold May Close Prescott Elementary

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SCRANTON -- A second elementary school in Scranton may shut down because of a mold problem.

However, school officials hope this closure will only be temporary.

Mold was first found in the cafeteria at Prescott Elementary in the spring, and now school officials are trying to decide if it's safe for kids to be there while the mold is cleaned up. It's a dilemma folks in the Hill Section are familiar with, since another school in that part of town closed permanently earlier this year.

Bonnie Gayda of Scranton picks up her granddaughter from preschool at Prescott Elementary every Friday. This week, with a little uncertainty, since hearing that the school may close temporarily because of a mold problem.

"I don't know where they're going to go, and of course I'm in charge of picking them up. So, I don't know where I'm going to pick them up next, and that bothers me," Gayda said.

At Prescott's back to school night this week, parents confronted administrators about recent positive tests for mold in the cafeteria. The school board will decide if the students should move while the mold problem is being fixed.

Since school began a few weeks ago, students have stayed out of the cafeteria.

"I asked the kids if it was true, and they told me they've been eating in their classrooms, doing everything in their classrooms, and I was thinking about moving them out," said parent Amanda Murcia.

A small amount of mold was found in the cafeteria back in March, and even though the most recent air quality tests have come back clean, administrators feel the best decision is to close the school temporarily in order to permanently fix the problem.

"We want to do a comprehensive and thorough job and while the building's closed we'll check to make sure there's no existence of mold anywhere else in the building," said Scranton School District Superintendent Bill King.

King wants the school board to go ahead and close Prescott Elementary for a part of this school year and move students to one of two places; St. Mary's School on Hickory Street or the former Nativity Elementary School on Orchard Street.

King said a move now would prevent what happened at John J. Audubon school from happening again. The elementary school in the Hill Section closed for good because of mold earlier this year.

"I just think the problems that existed there are much more extensive than what we're seeing here at Prescott," added King.

The Scranton School Board will hold a special meeting on Monday to decide the future of Prescott Elementary and where students may be moved to. The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. at Immaculate Conception Church in Scranton.