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  1. Pasco

Relocated Pasco middle school copes with moldy portable classrooms

Pasco County's Bayonet Point Middle School, considered but never proven to be a "sick school" as many teachers there contracted cancer over the years, closed down this fall for a complete renovation.

Most of the students relocated to Fivay High School for the duration of the project.

The move has generated a new set of concerns, though, as three of the five portable classrooms that students and teachers were supposed to use were deemed unusable just days before the start of classes. The culprit: Mold and poor air quality.

Teachers had to move their classes to the media center, gym and other available spaces away from the high school classes. The portables aren't expected to be ready for another another week.

"They've been creative with where they're putting them," area superintendent Todd Cluff said. "It's a pretty crowded campus."

Parents got a letter explaining the situation on Tuesday.

The problem cropped up over the summer break.

"We were pushing extremely hard over the summer to get the portables moved," maintenance director Mark Fox explained. "They got split apart during the move."

Rain got inside. Ninety-plus degree temperatures cooked the wet structures as they waited for power and air conditioning. A teacher noticed stains on the paneling while moving in, and reported the concern.

"The fresh air tests didn't come back positive," Fox said.

The district's environmental cleanup contractor, Simpson Environmental, took out the paneling and flooring, then ran another air test. Still bad. Now they're taking out the ceiling and the insulation.

Students won't get into the portables, Fox said, until they are deemed officially clean and ready.

Fivay High leaders said they're doing whatever they can to make the transition as smooth as possible for Bayonet Point.

"Our combined staffs are doing an outstanding job to accommodate any need that arises," principal Marsha VanHook said via e-mail. "For example, first thing this morning we had lightning in the area and quickly made the necessary adjustments for safety precautions. We did have do double up in the gym for the first couple of periods due to the lightning. We have all resumed our normal schedule/class placement for now. If weather fires up again, we will immediately readjust for the safety of all."

Tom Beddow, whose late wife worked at middle school, said he hopes the community pays attention to what happens to the staff and students of Bayonet Point.

"Bayonet Point has been a sick school," Beddow said. "I want to see it get better."

The Pasco Health Department never found evidence that Bayonet Point was a "sick school."