New floor installation nears completion, Brandywine Heights Elementary opens to students Nov. 4

Patriot photos by Lisa Mitchell New flooring installed at Brandywine Elementary School classroom.

Installation of new flooring nears completion this week and Brandywine Heights Elementary opens to students Nov. 4.

Brandywine Superintendent Andrew Potteiger offered The Patriot a tour of the elementary school on Oct. 24 as the last sections of flooring were being installed. The carpets were removed due to mold issues at the beginning of the school year. The project closed the elementary building and temporarily moved the students to the Intermediate School.

“We’re really excited to have everyone moving back into the Elementary School,” said Potteiger. “We’re really trying to make this a big positive community event.”

Potteiger said administration reached out to the local clergy, PTC and to parents and community members to help with the move. He encourages anyone who would like to help to call the District Office at 610-682-5100.

There will be no school for kindergarten to third grade on Friday, Nov. 1. Grades 4 to 12 will have a half day. Elementary teachers will move back into their classrooms on Nov. 1 with help from volunteers. Kindergarten to third grade students return to the elementary building on Monday, Nov. 4.

“It’s going to be a little bit of a transition, learning new bus lines, and the lunch line and where the bathrooms are, but we’re really excited to have them back in,” said Potteiger.

More than 85 high school students, community members and parents have volunteered to help with the move, he said.

“It’s so neat to see everyone coming together for a positive event and really showing the community support,” said Potteiger.

In addition to what is being moved from the Intermediate School to the Elementary School, some of the classroom furniture and library books and materials have been stored in the elementary school gym for the past several months. Teachers have drawn maps as to how they want their classrooms set up and custodians will arrange rooms accordingly, he said.

Entering a classroom with a glossy new vinyl tile floor, Potteiger said, “We are looking toward the opportunity to use a different floor surface.”

Potteiger noted that they understand the noise level will be louder on the vinyl tiles; carpets buffer the sound a little.

“The nice part is the spills, the messes, the accidents are so much easier to clean up and we’re really hopeful that’s going to be helpful in eliminating mold, allergies and dust that constantly lie in carpets.”

Potteiger said the mold issues were discovered during the normal summer cleaning. Air quality testing showed mold spores in the carpets. Service Master conducted several cleanings with special cleaners and the air quality tests continued to come back showing elevated mold spores.

“We spent numerous attempts to try to remediate the mold problem. In the final attempt we still had seven classrooms that were an issue so we decided at that point we recommended the school board remove the carpets,” said Potteiger. “The school board was very supportive through this whole process.”

The carpets were removed, the floors were prepared for new flooring and contractors installed 36,000 square feet of vinyl tile flooring and applied a wax sealant. Another air quality test will be conducted, he said.

Another option they looked at was a ground concrete flooring, stained and sealed; moisture in the air can flow right through, he said. The problem was the cost was more than $400,000, said Potteiger.

The option they chose was vinyl tile flooring for about $96,000 to install 36,000 square feet. The sealant prevents fluids from permeating the tile. That cost figure includes the grinding down of the existing surface to remove imperfections, gluing and installing new flooring, he said.

The total project cost, including cleaning and air quality testing as well as installation, was a little more than $200,000, coming from the General Fund, which is an emergency contingency fund of $200,000 set aside in the budget each year, Potteiger said.