PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Six classrooms are now closed at Garcia Elementary School in south Phoenix because of unhealthy levels of lead dust.
According to a new environmental report, water damage in the school lead to flaking and peeling of lead paint.
Arizona School Facilities Board Deputy Director of Operations Kerry Campbell says her agency is recommending funding be provided for the school to clean items that were being stored in the lead contaminated classroom. However, Campbell says it’s still undecided if the classrooms with the lead paint will be destroyed or updated.
Garcia Elementary is part of the Murphy School District, which ran into financial difficulties and is now in state receivership. Education experts say that as the district came under financial strain, it likely put off maintenance, which might have led to the water damage.
“Maintenance tends to be one of the first things to go,” said Stacey Morley, Government Affairs Director for STAND for Children Arizona.
Classes have been moved out of the affected rooms at Garcia Elementary. But some parents say they didn’t know about it.
“Nobody had noticed anything to us,” said Bernie Rios, whose kindergartner attends the school.
Meanwhile, there could be other schools across Arizona with lurking lead issues.
“We have some really old school districts and some really old buildings in this state,” Morley said.
And as in the case of Garcia Elementary, lead buried within the walls of old buildings can become exposed over time.
“When things were evaluated 10 or 15 years ago everything was good,” Morley said. “But now, you know, we just don’t know.”