RPSB votes for permanent mold solution at Arthur F. Smith, keeps doors open

ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - After almost an hour of public comment and debate, the future of Arthur F. Smith Middle Magnet School was in the Rapides Parish School Board's hands on Tuesday night. The Board voted, 8-1, to install new heating and cooling systems, in order to tackle mold issues.

Image Source: KALB

Leading up to the 5 p.m. meeting, Arthur F. Smith supporters filled the board room and lobby. Many of them were wearing red shirts that said "Save Our School".

Three options were put on the table to deal with the school's longtime mold and maintenance issues. Two of the options were to install new systems and the third was to close the school.

"Our students deserve a good building because they are our future," said AFS Principal Carlessa White. "Our students are future doctors, lawyers, preachers, teachers and they deserve our very best."

As soon as school lets out for the summer, mold remediation will begin in AFS classrooms. Once that is taken care of, they will begin to install direct exchange heating and cooling systems in all classrooms.

That part of the project is estimated to cost $449,000:
Equipment and Labor - $350,000
Detailed remediation - $50,000
14% A and E Fee - $49,000

"We going to do it in phases," said board member Willard McCall. "The bathrooms are not that bad. The fresh air is our main problem, the bathroom we can deal with."

Later phases will address other needed maintenance including security and restroom issues.

"The school board did a good job of moving fast on the issue, but I want to see how fast they are going to move to come to the school and start correcting the issue," said Arthur F. Smith JAG Specialist Melissa Brown.

Step one in the process is to secure an architect.

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