SAD 43 OKs delegation trip to New Orleans

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RUMFORD – A group of 14 students, teachers and at least one parent will travel to New Orleans during April vacation as volunteers for Habitat for Humanity.

“I can’t remember in my four years of anything like this being done,” said recent Mountain Valley High School graduate and SAD 43 board member Chris Brennick.

At Monday’s board meeting, social studies teacher Carrie Youcis said the project was started by students who wanted to do something to help others. Along with about 10 students are several teachers who will help build houses in the hurricane-torn city.

The group will soon start raising funds to pay for plane fare. They’ll stay at Camp Hope, the Habitat for Humanity residence for volunteers located just outside New Orleans.

Although a couple of board member expressed concerns about the crime rate in the New Orleans, and the cost to transport the group to the airport in Manchester, N.H., the board overwhelmingly approved providing the transportation there.

The group will work on the same house and stay together during their week of volunteer work, Youcis said.

“We are really proud of you,” board Chairwoman Linda Westleigh said.

In other matters on Monday, the board heard a report from Larry Mare and Gary Bates of the state’s Division of Safety and Environmental Services on the air quality at Rumford Elementary School.

The inspection was triggered by a complaint from a former teacher at the school that mold had forced him to resign.

According to Mare, his inspection confirmed the result of an earlier inspection conducted by a private company several months ago.

“There is nothing abnormal,” said Mare, who cited numbers for such things as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, as well as mold results, which were all lower than the limit allowed under federal law.

Westleigh said there were allegations that the school administration was hiding mold problems.

“Is there any substance to that?” she asked.

Mare said evidence showed very little mold, and of the mold detected, it came from grass and soil, most likely from foot traffic in the building.

Superintendent Jim Hodgkin said the district’s other three school buildings will also be tested by Mare.

Hodgkin announced the receipt of a $65,000 Homeland Security grant that will be used to upgrade Mountain Valley Middle School and the high school as public shelters in case of an emergency.

The board also approved a two-day trip to Montreal on April 27-29 for about 24 French class students and six adults.

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