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To prevent more mold at high school, South Hadley officials eye costly new HVAC system

Officials in South Hadley, Massachusetts, are still getting estimates on a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system for the high school. It's been more than three months since extensive mold temporarily closed the school following a wet and humid summer.

“We have remediated and we're back in the building,” said Alli Schlachter, South Hadley School Committee chair. “But we are not in any way ready for the next sort of wet weather. And that's coming, right? I mean with climate change.”

The early estimate for a new HVAC system is $400,000 to $500,000. Schlachter said she and others want the town to pay for the best system as it looks to the future.

“I think that people should know that we are not out of the woods yet,” she said. “We still have a wet high school. Our humidifiers are still filling up.”

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The costs of mold remediation at the high school in South Hadley, Massachusetts, were presented at a December 2021 Selectboard meeting.

The price tag for the immediate cleanup at the school and replacement of furniture and books was almost $850,000, paid for with federal COVID relief money.

The South Hadley Selectboard meets again later this month and HVAC costs are expected to be on the agenda.

Jill Kaufman has been a reporter and host at NEPM since 2005. Before that she spent 10 years at WBUR in Boston, producing "The Connection" with Christopher Lydon and on "Morning Edition" reporting and hosting. She's also hosted NHPR's daily talk show "The Exhange" and was an editor at PRX's "The World."
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