An examination has found that mold growth and dampness in a crawl space has affected areas of Edgewater Elementary, parents and staff were was told Tuesday night at the school. However, the president of the independent firm that conducted the evaluation said those problems — which have prompted health concerns — can be addressed.

Ed Light of Ashton-based Building Dynamics LLC has for the past two weeks been reviewing concerns from parents, staff and faculty, and conducting evaluations of the school. He outlined his preliminary findings before a crowd of about 75 at Edgewater's cafeteria.

The Anne Arundel County School System hired Light's firm after a group of parents, teachers, staff and students gathered at a school board public hearing about two weeks ago and implored officials to prioritize improvements to the school's aging structure, which they say is fraught with health concerns. Edgewater was first used in 1953 and was last renovated in 1985. It is slated for a feasibility study in 2016.

Light said that the dampness and mold issues can be resolved by controlling steam-pipe leaks and by isolating the crawl space from the building.

"We can eliminate the dampness and the mold exposure here very quickly, really within the maintenance budget," said Light.

His preliminary assessment did not satisfy some parents who believe the building has major problems and must be placed higher on the school system's priorities list.

Said parent Casey Ireland after the meeting, "These kids are sick all the time. The board of education couldn't even show up at this meeting and act as if they care or have any concerns. They're trying to fix concerns that have been here for 60 years."

Daniel LaHart, Anne Arundel schools' supervisor of operations and logistics, attended the meeting and said preventative maintenance was "one of the key issues in this school district."

"We have implemented in this school right now — we've put monitoring into place with our custodial staff to daily check [the] crawl space once, twice a day," he said. "At least during the heating season we can identify if there are any other leaks down there just by the noise that steam makes."

Joseph.burris@baltsun.com

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