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Einstein waiting for results of inspection before accepting Michoud school site

Einstein Charter School’s board of directors will accept the Michoud facility that is undergoing wide-ranging renovation work this summer — as long as it passes a biological inspection aimed at identifying mold.

“I do not foresee any problems,” said Shawn Toranto, Einstein’s CEO, who said she toured the school earlier in the day.

Einstein’s board met Tuesday to decide whether to accept the building at 5316 Michoud Blvd., which formerly housed Intercultural Charter School. Einstein is slated to take over ICS this year, but Einstein leaders were not satisfied with the condition of the building.

Einstein leaders ordered their own fungal assessment after disagreeing with the Recovery School District’s initial renovation plan. The RSD increased the scope of work after reviewing the 34-page assessment filled with photos of mold and water damage at the modular campus.

Board member Chuck Gasho said that while the mold looked bad, it didn’t seem bad enough to be a health concern.

On Friday, board members toured the buildings to check the progress.

“What they’ve done now is spectacular,” said Gasho, who has experience with facility management.

The board approved a motion to accept the building contingent on completion of interior work and the facility passing a biological assessment, checking for mold, which Einstein’s consultant also will review.

The only item that remains in question is city inspections.

While on the site visit Friday, facilities consultant Ken Ducote asked Jim Austin, the RSD’s director of operations, whether city permits were obtained for the renovation work. Austin answered that he wasn’t sure.

Einstein, an Orleans Parish School Board charter, will lease the building from the RSD.

“I think that’s RSD’s issue,” Toranto said of the permits and inspections. “We just don’t want the city to stop us because of a technicality.”

“At this point it’s for RSD to figure out,”  board President Ryan Bennett said. “They seemed surprised by the question.”

“Yes they did,” Gasho said.

The board also approved a shared services contract with RSD for waste removal, grounds maintenance and heating, venting and air conditioning service. Business manager Doug Guidry said the extension site will use shared services for pest control as well, but Einstein will remain under its existing pest control contract.

Guidry said the modular site has several air conditioning units and concerns about age and condition of the units makes the shared services contract a good investment.

“Basically what we’re buying here is an insurance policy and some peace of mind.”

 

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