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Take Note: A fungus among us; last-minute save

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A fungus among us

Schools have endured floods, hurricanes, snowstorms, and fires. But mold?

An elementary school in Hamden, Conn., may be one of the few to claim that it battled nature's clammy calamity.

A custodian at the West Woods School discovered pervasive green mold and dark mildew on walls, furniture, and books throughout the building, which had been closed over a muggy summer weekend.

"There's not a room in the building that did not have mold in it," Jane Glynn, the assistant to the superintendent, said.

The district--which has learned of similar cases in schools in Long Island, N.Y., and Florida--hired a cleaning contractor and an environmental consultant to handle the mess.

The cleanup is expected to cost about $100,000 and be completed in time for the start of classes this week

District officials said the brick school probably fell victim to poor ventilation and unusually humid weather.

Last-Minute Save

The Little Red Schoolhouse has been saved.

A one-room school near Santa Paula in Southern California almost lost its soul last month. It was time to register for election to the school's three-member board, and only one resident had signed up. Unless two other candidates joined the race, the nearly century-old Santa Clara School--affectionately called the Little Red Schoolhouse--could have been absorbed by the county.

The problem was not that a seat on the board was too demanding--members meet only once a month for three hours. But in a rural district where the 100 voters are separated by miles of farmland, few even knew of the board openings.

But finally, two candidates stepped in. Shirley A. Diamond, an eight-year school board member, reversed her decision to step down. She had twisted arms among her friends to find her replacement but had found no takers.

The other savior, Lynne K. Peterson, a psychology professor, did not even know about the school's plight before reading a newspaper story published only hours before the filing deadline.

"It's a wonderful program," she said of the school. "It just didn't feel right that the county might take it over." --Joanna Richardson & Drew Lindsay

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