Union president: ‘Smell of mildew is permeating’ throughout Central High

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Central High School in Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Nearly a year after mold problems forced Providence officials to close Central High School for a day and shuttered an entire wing of the building for an extended period, the president of the city’s teachers’ union says the school is still suffering from water problems and air quality issues.

In a letter to Mayor Jorge Elorza dated March 15, Providence Teachers Union President Maribeth Calabro asked for the city make additional repairs to the school and test air quality in the building.

“I have been addressing this matter with district personnel since November, and to date, I have been provided with no assurances as to when the repairs will be made,” Calabro wrote. “The water intrusion is now occurring on the opposite side of the building and the smell of mildew is permeating throughout the entire building.”

Calabro provided Eyewitness News with several pictures showing water damage to classrooms at the school. She also took to Twitter to criticize Elorza for not responding to her letter even though he testified this week in favor of Gov. Gina Raimondo’s proposal to borrow $250 million to fund school repairs throughout the state.

In a statement, Victor Morente, a spokesperson for Elorza, said the city “is currently in the process of evaluating the situation and from there will outline a timeline.”

Laura Hart, a spokesperson for the school department, said district officials have been briefed on the issues at Central High school by the union. She also said the “new issues of potential water and/or humidity damage came to the district’s attention in January.”

The union and Elorza are currently locked in an increasingly contentious battle over their collective bargaining agreement, which expired last August. More than 1,000 protesters shouted down Elorza during his State of the City address last month while demanding a new contract. The mayor has said he is pursuing a “transformational contract,” although he has provided few specifics on the types of changes he is seeking.

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Dan McGowan (dmcgowan@wpri.com) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

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