Lake Forest begins further testing at East Elementary

FELTON — Further testing into concerns regarding a possible cancer cluster at Lake Forest East Elementary School have begun.

“We are on track to get this done as soon as possible,” Lake Forest Director of Human Resources Travis Moorman said during the regular board of education meeting Thursday evening in place of superintendent Dr. Brenda G. Wynder who was out of town.

School officials said testing is currently being conducted into a possible cancer cluster at Lake Forest East Elementary school in Frederica after another teacher was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016. File Photo/Logan Anderson

School officials said testing is currently being conducted into a possible cancer cluster at Lake Forest East Elementary school in Frederica after another teacher was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016.
File Photo/Logan Anderson

Batta Environmental Associates, Inc. provided previous testing to the district at that facility after similar concerns in 2014.

With the new diagnosis of another East Elementary school teacher, Dr. Wynder and building and grounds supervisor Karl Stahre recently met with a representative from the firm requesting a new plan of action.

Mr. Moorman said staff at the school were asked to fill out an anonymous survey, similar to the one they filled out during previous testing.

The results will be compiled and analyzed by Batta Environmental Associates, Inc. by Wednesday, Feb. 17, according to Mr. Moorman.

“The survey results will determine the areas that need testing,” he said. “Air quality testing will be conducted by the end of February. The square footage of the building requires two areas to be tested, however, we have elected to test three to four areas.”

A report will be produced once the air quality has been analyzed, according to officials, and a staff meeting held by Batta Environmental Associates, Inc. to discuss findings and answer questions.

Lake Forest Education Association Vice President Karen Crouse also addressed the issue during the meeting with appreciation. “Thank you for working with the East staff in helping to move that forward and ease their minds,” she said.

Policy changes discussed

Board members have seen a lot of policy changes in recent meetings, mostly “ housekeeping” amendments merely enhancing readability or changing minor grammar mistakes.

A policy relating to emergencies, however, was presented at Thursday’s meeting and pulled from the usual line-up to be further evaluated and re-addressed at a future meeting.

The current policy, simply titled “Safety Drills,” needs to encompass boarder emergency plans, according to board members.

“For me, when I read this,” board member James Rau began, “it reads like an evacuation plan when there are so many other kinds of emergencies. For example, [for] an active shooter we’re not going to just evacuate the building. I just want to make sure we’re thinking of other emergencies instead of just evacuating the building. I think there needs to be a comprehensive plan, not an evacuation plan.”

He suggested a “feeder plan” to fellow board members which would encompass one emergency plan for the district while still allowing each school administration to tailor emergency plans to each school building individually.

Board President Ronda Swenson said the policy would be pulled from the group of first readings and will come back to committee in March.

“Uncle Ed” set to retire

Much to the dismay of several board members, Supervisor of Elementary Education Edward Cutler submitted his resignation to be effective at the close of the business day on Friday, July 1 this year.

One member joked that she wouldn’t vote while another said he’d abstain, but all ultimately voted in favor of the request.

Mr. Cutler said, “The past 10 years has been the highlight of my career.”

All of the board members exchanged pleasantries with Mr. Cutler during the meeting, including newcomer Earle Dempsey.

“I haven’t been here long enough, or active enough previously, to say I know any one particular person, but him I can. He’ll say I saw your third grader today, boy, he’s a piece of work! Then when I get home, my third grader will say I saw Mr. Cutler today. Boy he’s a piece of work,” Mr. Dempsey joked.

The next Lake Forest School District Board of Education meeting will be held at North Elementary in Felton Feb. 25.

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