A Broward grand jury has blasted the School Board's efforts to
eradicate mold and mildew from dozens of schools, saying the school
district never took the problem seriously or committed enough
resources to fix it.
The 89-page report released Monday also predicts a rash of
potentially costly lawsuits from teachers and parents if the School
Board doesn't improve clean-up efforts.
It suggests that a state oversight board -- similar to one that
has power over Miami-Dade's school construction program -- could be
necessary if the School Board doesn't speed up the clean-up.
One positive note: Some of the schools built since 1999 appear to
''The School Board has now realized how essential it is to build
schools that don't leak,'' said Assistant State Attorney John
Countryman, who conducted the yearlong investigation. ``It's basic,
but it wasn't getting through to them back before.''
Still, the grand jury found problems that extended past mold and
• It criticized the influence
lobbyists have when the School Board selects contractors.
• It found the school district was
still occupying buildings before they were finished. The grand jury
cited a classroom addition at Norcrest Elementary, which opened over
the objections of a building inspector, with two weeks left in the
2002-03 school year. And it questioned the January 2003 opening of a
replacement school for Rock Island Elementary.