WESTPORT—The mold remediation project at Coleytown Middle School has doubled in projected cost to half a million dollars.

Originally scheduled to be completed by January and budgeted to cost $250,000, mold removal at the school is now expected to cost at least $500,000, forcing the Board of Education to draw heavily from its carryover account.

At the Jan.9 Board of Education meeting $163,000 was unanimously approved to be expended from the carryover account for the project.

“I wouldn’t quite call the mold an emergency, but I would call it a serious issue and I think that really underscores the value of it (carryover account) if we use it for something like that,” Chairman Michael Gordon said.

Of 34 total rooms and two hallways identified for possible mold contamination, 22 rooms have been inspected and 12 of those required the removal of both common and potentially toxic molds.

Over the winter break classrooms rooms numbered 103, 104, 105 and 106 were all stripped of potentially toxic mold and cleared for occupancy by Brooks Environmental Consulting. Maintenance office 119 had an air quality test done showing that remediation in that room is done, but suggests monitoring going forward. It is also recommended that classroom 105 gets additional monitoring.

As in the last report, it notes that the pre-abatement levels of mold could cause coughing, wheezing, trouble breathing, asthma attacks, irritation and itching. It also mentions that “…the observed condition may cause biological exposures…and chemicals exposure.”

School officials and parents said the presence of mold since it was discovered in August, has not caused any adverse health effects on members of the school community.

Kathleen Doyle, a member of the Coleytown Middle School PTA, said the project has not altered the learning environment at the school.

“It’s moving along with very little to no impact on students or teachers…my understanding is that there have been zero student or teacher complaints,” Doyle said.

“There really hasn’t been any parent outreach on this, it’s not affecting anybody,” she added.

Patti Lynch, also a member of the PTA, said the status of the project was briefly discussed at last week’s meeting and that they were updated on how the project is slated to cost more and take longer than expected.

The school board’s carryover account started at $531,894 and currently sits at $250,000, but if $165,000 for facilities and $50,000 for a redistricting study by Milone and MacBroom are approved by the board, the account will have a balance of $36,000.

The escalating cost of the mold remediation project could be a challenge for Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer’s budget plan, which assumes a revenue offset of $165,000 from the carryover account to keep the budget at a 2.44 percent increase over last year. Another unknown is the amount of money that will be available in the health reserve come June, where Palmer assumes $1.2 million in revenue offsets in her budget.

“I look at the carryover fund and this is necessary for the welfare of our students, for the maintenance of our school that we must attend to it, so this is a perfect example, in my opinion, of how we can access these resources to take care of this issue,” Palmer said. “So we have different things competing for the same funds.”

@chrismmarquette; cmarquette@bcnnew.com