What's on the cafeteria ceiling; should parents be concerned?

Cafeteria ceiling - Acceptable or Unacceptable?

Acceptable or Unacceptable?


By: Pat Hunter

January 22, 2009


The letter below was sent on Thursday, January 22 by email to Mr. Wayne Honeycutt, School Director of Loudon County Schools, Loudon County Board of Education members, Loudon County Commissioners, Mayor Doyle Arp, Hugh Willett, Knoxville News Sentinel, Mary Hinds, News Herald, Scott McCluen and myself. The letter below was written by Wendy Baustian. Ms. Baustian shared her opinion and concerns about the HVAC issues at her school. She is a parent and PTO President of Loudon Elementary School.


At the December 2008 School Board meeting, audience members were told that Loudon Elementary School was at the top of the priority list. During the Christmas holidays, weather was unusually warm with some good days so why weren't units installed? 


Over 1 year ago, Ms. Baustian sent emails with her concerns about leaky roofs at her school. She is requesting that school officials look into the leaks and HVAC issues. Something black or dark is now located on the cafeteria ceiling. Is it a stain? Should it be tested for mold? Will her concerns be addressed or ignored?   



Timeline of events based on public records:


December 13, 2007 - Loudon County Board of Education approves $2,930,000.00. $1.984,400 Million was earmarked for HVAC heating and cooling units. All units not repairable and/or over (20) years old.


January 22, 2008 - Special Called Meeting of the Loudon County Board of Education. Breakdown of costs. Information forwarded to the Budget Committee and Loudon County Commission.


March 3, 2008 - Loudon County Commission passed and approved a $3 Million Capital Outlay Resolution.


Note: Loudon Elementary School waits for the installation of HVAC units and permanent repairs to roof. Temporary roof repairs have been made - more information to follow as it becomes available. 





Wayne Honeycutt- School Director



Letter to Wayne Honeycutt

Wendy Baustian wrote the letter below voicing her opinion; her plea to school official is to address problems and issues at Loudon Elementary School. Will he or school officials respond?


Subject: HVAC Installation


Dear Mr Honeycutt,

I am writing today to discuss the HVAC installation which is pending for Loudon Elementary school.  Today, units in the first and second grade were not working again.  I understand that immediate efforts were being made to make the necessary repairs, however 2 years is entirely too long to wait for a permanent solution.

I am unsure if you are aware of the full history of the HVAC problems at LES, but I have documented problems with those units going back to the beginning of the 07-08 school year.  At that time, several air conditioning units were inoperable for several days during a heat wave, in which temperatures were in the 90's everyday that summer leading into the school year.  Several water fountains in the building were not working properly, the awnings were not up yet and parents were not notified of the uncomfortable temperatures at the school.

During the winter months, we documented children in our school, attending classes while the interior temperatures of the building were recorded to be 58 degrees.  Children were wearing coats in classrooms.  (Those photos can be found on the blog site.....  Still, no notice to parents! No new units!

At the start of the 08-09 school year, Loudon Elementary school was once again, without air conditioning in several areas of our school during especially warm weather.  No notice to the parents was ever sent advising them to send water in with their children or to dress the children in light clothes, until a parent made an issue of it!  Then finally a short note was sent home.  Which brings us to today and the lack of heat, once again.

March 2008, County Commission approved $3M, of which a portion of that money was to be used to install new HVAC's at all of the schools.  Almost a full year later, Loudon Elementary school is still awaiting the installation of our HVACs.  You were quoted in the News Sentinel in August as stating that the installation of the HVAC's were almost completed!  Yet, they sit, uninstalled on our school property. 

My questions today are:  Why wasn't LES considered to be a phase 1 installation knowing we had a pre-existing roof problem which required completion of the HVAC to commence?  Why wasn't phase 2 co-ordinated properly to insure installation over fall break?  Why wasn't it completed over winter break?  Why were there even a need for a phase 1 and phase 2 when they could have been bid out simultaneously and allowed different contractors to work on them?  How soon can we expect that the work will actually be done?  Will calling the TV stations and alerting them to the problem expedite our installation at our school, as it has done at Eaton's?  What about Dave Hemelright stating that LES would be the first priority once approved by the SFMO?  Will extraordinary steps be taken at LES to expedite the installation of our HVAC's now that we also have no heat in some classrooms?    And at what point do the parents of our school eventually decide that we are being discriminated against because of the high percentage of minority and low-income students?  While that may not be the case, it is certainly the perception that is reached when Eaton's can receive immediate attention and remediation while we wait over 2 years for the exact same service.

Mr Honeycutt, I know you inherited these problems, but they are yours, nonetheless.  Regardless, children should not be required to attend school under these conditions and while I applaud your efforts to take care of the children of Eaton, the children of Loudon Elementary school have endured these conditions for a much longer period of time and deserve the same respect and services as children from the north side of the county.

I look forward to hearing from you regarding the status of the installation of the HVAC units at LES, since Dave Hemelright was unable to provide the public with a detailed account of the status at the last meeting.

Wendy Baustian

PS.  There is also what appears to be "black mold" growing in the ceiling of the cafeteria at LES at the site of previously documented leaks and I would appreciate if you would have the area inspected to determine if it is, in fact, mold, so that it can be fixed when the roofs are being repaired.