Let's fill school roof canisters

By Jane Tanaka, M.D.

How could leaky school roofs impair learning?

  1. The kerplunk kerplunk, splat in the buckets catching rain from leaking classroom ceilings are distracting — yes, but that’s not how, for most students, except for the 5% of students with ADHD, or the student with hyperacusis.
  2. Absences from fungal pneumonia and aspergillus encephalitis — thankfully not very common, although still worrisome for students who are immunocompromised.

Allergic rhinitis and asthma exacerbations from fungus/mold/mildew are common, but that’s not how either.

  1. Here’s how: As black mold grows in damp indoor spaces, it releases volitile organic sompounds (VOC) that impair attention and concentration, cause headaches and dizziness. (www.coem.com/coemnew/images/AdverseHealthEffectsofIndoorMolds.pdf)

One study on the neurotoxicity of mold VOC on Drosophila demonstrated damage to dopaminergic neurons. (toxsci.oxfordjournals.org/content/117/2/418.full.pdf) Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter, in the pre-frontal cortex, the brain’s center for motivation, attention, organization, and staying on task in learning.

Thus, leaky roofs during rain causing moisture to develop in attics, walls and carpets can encourage growth of mold/mildew/fungus, which release VOCs, which impair attention and other executive functions necessary in learning.

The Ramona Unified School District maintenance staff has patched and repatched the roofs for decades. Some of these roofs are beyond patching and need major repairs/replacements.The district spends more than 3x amount allocated by the State of California for its Deferred Maintenance Program. They are not using this funding for teachers’ or adminstrators’ salaries, as incorrectly inferred in the past. FORUS has just learned that RUSD plans to repair the roof of the Ramona Elementary preschool during the winter break to prevent health complications in our youngest and most medically fragile students.

However, there are no additional funds to replace/repair all of the leaky roofs at RUSD. It’s estimated by one lead custodian that up to 50% of the classrooms have leaky roofs. FORUS would like to start with an initial goal of $20,000 for roof repairs at Barnett Elementary, Olive Peirce Middle School, Montecito High School and Ramona HS. FORUS will later decide on the feasibility of further fundraising for roof repairs/replacements at other school sites, based on public response.

We at FORUS are trying to fill the gaps in the deferred maintenance issues that impact the health and safety of our students. One hundred percent of donations will go toward repairing/replacing roofs at RUSD. Overhead for fundraising is being provided by FORUS members out of pocket. Your donation to the FORUS ROOF PROJECT may be mailed to :

Dave Patterson, FORUS ROOF PROJECT Chairman

1003 Sixth Street

Ramona, CA 92065

760-207-9139

Thus far approximately $3,000 have been donated to the Roof Project. FORUS thanks its most recent donors: all of the generous Trick-o-Treating kids and parents, Nuevo Grill, Ramona Family Naturals, Mischa Dobrotin, Attorney Lawrence Stidham, William and Mary Palmer, Paul and Dottie Pakus, Dr. Robert Graeff, Cyndie Jobb PA, Don and Denise Truett, Carmen Bedia, Ralph Kling, Gail and Larry Krussow, Dale Hagen, Greg Chick/Jane Tanaka MD, Dr. Jill Cottel and Dr. Amanda Gutierrez.

If you are a merchant or business in Ramona and you’d be willing to house one of our 96 donation canisters, we very much need your help.

Ramonans, please visit the kind businesses who volunteered to house our donations canisters, including: Sav-on Pharmacy, Richardson’s Recycling, the office of mortgage consultant Shelly Heimer at WJ Bradley, Ramona Sentinel, ChuckAlek Independent Brewers, Greg Chick—Ramona’s Plumber, and the office of Jane Tanaka MD.

Friends of Ramona Unified Schools (FORUS) is a California nonprofit organization awaiting 501(c)(3) status. Earlier this school year, FORUS raised $10,600 for vandal-proof faucets and two years worth of soap for the secondary school bathrooms of RUSD, and also $1,000 to replace faucets beyond repair and $500 for replacement batteries for the Automated Electronic Defibrillators at OPMS and RHS.

Jane Tanaka, M.D., is a Ramona resident.

   
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