Students in Hillsborough County headed back into the classrooms Friday morning even though there have been serious health concerns in the schools.
The issues ranged from air conditioning problems, reports of lead in drinking water, gaps in radon testing and mold in at least one Hillsborough County high school.
10News anchor Courtney Robinson took those concerns straight to Superintendent Jeff Eakins as he met with a VPK class.
Mold was found in the auditorium at Plant High School. School district officials said a faulty AC unit was to blame, and they were working to get it fixed. They said the mold was removed, the room was cleaned, and the air quality was tested. The auditorium will reopen when the air quality tests get back to them.
After hearing about reports of lead in the water at schools across the country, the Hillsborough County schools started testing the water in its own facilities for the dangerous element -- and found it.
Superintendent Eakins said that the levels weren’t high enough to report it to families.
“None of our buildings across Hillsborough County ever exceeded the levels by which you have to communicate out to any families that there is some sort of health issue, so we’re going to continue to test," he said. "We’ve tested about 20 percent of our buildings, we had about 80 percent more to go. We’re going to ensure the safety of our students that’s Hillsborough County public schools. That’s what we do to ensure safety for our kids, and I want to make sure the public is very clear about that."
Air conditioning also remains a big problem for Hillsborough schools. Officials said about 40 AC units need major repairs or to be replaced by 2021. The estimated cost for that is around $340 million.
Eakins said he thinks the schools were absolutely safe for children to be in, and issues would be found in schools across the country.
“It’s really about ensuring the safety of our kids," Eakins said. "We don’t just sit around and wait for these things to happen. That’s why we have results out there, because we do the testing we do, all those kinds of things. We’ve done it for years and we feel like that we owe that to our parents,” said Eakins.
Eakins said proper funding for the schools could help solve many of the problems the Hillsborough County School District is facing.
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