Johnston County Schools new Superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow has admitted poor facility conditions at a local high school should have never happened.
Responding to a WTSB News story on Thursday, Dr. Renfrow said in a statement, “We are sad this has occurred and acknowledge that it should not have.”
Renfrow was referring to a WTSB News story about possible mold growing in the Field House at Smithfield Selma High School. The building was in use by the school’s baseball team until conditions became so severe it was closed.
Mark Lee, a parent of a varsity baseball player, brought his concerns about health and safety to the Smithfield Town Council on Tuesday night. The council asked Mayor Andy Moore to draft a letter to the Johnston County School Board demanding immediate action.
Johnston County Schools Public Information Officer Tracey Peedin Jones confirmed the issue with the Field House was first reported on February 22nd. At the time, Superintendent Dr. Ed Croom worked with Patrick Jacobs, Chief Operations Officer, to put into place corrective actions.
Jacobs said, “Once we were notified we implemented a plan of action to rectify the situation while also providing an alternative area for athletes to use in the interim.”
The main building of the Field House has been shut off to all students and staff and this area will remain closed until all information has been gathered and decisions have been made on how to proceed, Peedin Jones said. The building has been inspected and tested and Johnston County Schools is awaiting those results. Currently, the district is soliciting quotes for a new roof, electrical and plumbing in order to help determine the next steps.
Lee says repairs won’t fix the mold problem. He believes the building should be torn down and a new one built. Lee said Smithfield Selma High was being overlooked while other high school campuses had much nicer athletic facilities.
“They are dragging their feet,” Lee told WTSB News on Friday. “I don’t know if the school board is behind it. Those same people can give their superintendent a half million dollars to retire and can’t spend 50 or 75 thousand dollars for our school.”
Dr. Renfrow said in a statement released Thursday, “At no time will students be placed in harm’s way while we are in the process of correcting the issue at the Field House and are working diligently to bring this facility up to standard.”
Officials are also awaiting tests to confirm if the building in fact does have mold.