Mold forces students out

Mold found in portables has forced Bishop Allen Academy Catholic Secondary School in Etobicoke, to move Grade 10 students to another school.

The discovery has forced 400 students to be re-located to St. Peter’s Elementary Catholic School at 900 Markham Rd. in Toronto until the end of the fall semester.

According to Richard Francki, the superintendent of facilities services with the Toronto Catholic District School Board, (TCDSB) the board shut down the portables and ordered an inspection.

Francki explained that the problem was discovered on Aug. 20. Initially, four portables were affected. He said the problem was due to the damp summer weather.

“Damage to the four portables is approximately $60,000. However, the total cost will be in the vicinity of $2,500,000 since the board had to house the affected students elsewhere temporarily and replace the portable system,” Francki said.

Francki also explained that 19 of the 20 remaining portables will be inspected to determine if they can be refurbished.

Sandy Costa, a Grade 10 student at the school is adjusting to all the changes in her new routine.

“It’s inconvenient getting to school now, she said “When I was at Bishop Allen, I used to get a ride to school from my parents. Now I need to take the bus and leave home earlier.”

The Grade 10 student had four of her classes in portables. She explained that although this has been inconvenient, students have been able to adjust.

“So far, it’s been pretty easy to try and adjust. It’s been somewhat fun. For the most part, it’s many of the same teachers and students for most of the classes, so it’s not too much of a big change all together,” Costa said.

Students and staff were not the only ones affected by this change. Parents also shared their concern over the issue. Maria Costa, Sandy’s mother is now at ease knowing that the board had an immediate back up plan.

“I was afraid that this would be a bigger problem that wouldn’t be fixed any time soon. We were told (by the school board) that everything would be back to normal by the end of the semester. This makes me feel better,” Maria Costa said.

Patrick Keyes, the  principal at Bishop Allen, expects the issue will be resolved by Feb. 2, 2009, which is the beginning of semester two for his school. He also explained that the transition for students has been better than expected.

“So far its been good, I’d even say surprisingly good. The students have adjusted well to this change. They’re in a nice part of the city so it’s a fun experience for them,” Keyes said.

According to Keyes, $2,000 has been provided for TTC tickets for students with low income families.