Water Damage Forced Closure of Some Mt. Whitney Classrooms

Fresno, CA Chairs and desks are stacked up outside the "I" wing at Mt. Whitney High School in Visalia. Inside the science classroom you can see the open crawl space where cleanup crews removed soggy drywall.

Stan Carrizosa said, "There were some seals on our roofs that leaked and because of that we got water into some of the insulation and the ceiling tiles."

As many as 19 classrooms in three wings may have sustained water damage. Visalia Unified Superintendent Stan Carrizosa says district records show roof maintenance on these buildings was up to date - roofs weren't due to be replaced for 15 more years.

"The ones that ended up leaking leaked on some seals on the joints but they were on our cycle for roof repair and had been done about a decade ago," said Carrizosa.

But now Mt. Whitney administrators must shuffle displaced students and teachers around campus.

"We have a great staff and we have plenty of places to put kids. We have portables as you can see coming in and they'll be coming on line in the next couple of days."

Eight portables will be brought in for classroom use. In the meantime, every open space available on campus will be used to teach kids.

"Some teachers will allow a classroom to be taught in their room during their prep period, during their planning period. We've partitioned some temporary walls up in the school's cafeteria," said Carrizosa.

But another district concern is the spread of mold which was found in some of the vacated classrooms.

Carrizosa said, "There was the beginning formation of some which is why we evacuated that building. Now based on the indoor air quality assessments that we get back we'll continue to empty those classes as needed."

Because of the reconstruction project, Carrizosa says students may be in the temporary classrooms indefinitely.

Carrizosa adds the water damage from the storm may ultimately cost as much as a million dollars to repair. He says funds to pay for it will come from a district insurance policy.

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