Edgewater Elementary School may be source of health problems for kids

Dozens of Edgewater Elementary parents descended on the Anne Arundel County School Board Wednesday night armed with placards and ribbons and stories of sick kids.

"We started school this year in kindergarten and Megan started coming home with rashes on her skin, headaches all the time," said parent Gary Fritter.

Parents say their kids get everything from asthma to eczema, but only when school is in session.

Sue Danielson's 7-year-old son Zack was diagnosed with asthma when he was 3. For two years, Danielson, who is a nurse, said the asthma was under control. Then she enrolled Zack at Edgewater Elementary.

"Shortly after kindergarten, he started getting sick," Danielson said. "It just kept getting worse and worse to the point he was on so much medicine."

More medication than an adult, she said.

But then he suddenly got better.

"The surprising thing to us was a couple of weeks after being out of school [for summer break], he didn't need his asthma medicine anymore," she said. But "two weeks back into the school year, we are back on asthma medicine and we are double the dose."

According to PTA president Jenny Corkhill, a number of parents have withdrawn their kids from school this year due to health concerns.

"The school smells," said parent Alicia Davidowski. "You go into the classrooms and you see stuff oozing out of the walls, out of the cracks. It's just nasty."

The PTA says multiple families and teachers report increases of asthma, upper respiratory infections, headaches, bloody noses and even rashes.

Built in 1953, Edgewater is the oldest county school that has never had a major renovation. The Board of Education did a study seven years ago and acknowledges that Edgewater was in the second worst physical condition of all county schools. However, it is not slated for a feasibility study until 2016.

"They want us to wait in line and our children can't wait in line," Corkhill said..

Other issues like education suitability and technology pushed other schools ahead of Edgewater on the list. The Board says it is willing to consider moving Edgewater ahead on the list.

Previous investigations done by the system found some high humidity, fluctuating temperatures in some classrooms and higher levels of carbon dioxide.

"There are areas of concern, but we have got nothing in those reports to date that say there is imminent danger to students or staff," said Anne Arundel County Public Schools spokesman Bob Mosier.

Mosier said the board would look again at the priority list and see if the school should be moved to a higher priority.

But to Danielson and other parents, a fix must be imminent.

"I would much rather fix the school and keep him here," she said. "I really don't want to take him out of school."