Parents, students redirected to alternative office

The entry to the main office has signs redirecting parents and visitors to an alternative location on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013. The roof, installed on Jordan Middle School in August 2013, is emitting a strong odor that has the office staff working elsewhere on the Burbank campus. (Tim Berger / Staff Photographer / October 11, 2013)

Concerned about a persistent smell following the installation of a new roof at Jordan Middle School during the summer, officials moved a class out of one classroom and relocated 11 administrators and staff members from the campus’ main office while they try to determine its cause.

Jordan Middle School was one of eight Burbank campuses to receive new roofs over the summer that used materials manufactured by a company called Tremco. The work was paid for with Measure S bond funds.

Four other schools, including Luther Burbank Middle School, Disney Elementary, Roosevelt Elementary, and Burbank Adult School, received new roofs that emitted odors after the installation, but the fumes dissipated at those sites, said Craig Bell, the district’s director of facilities.

“It just seems to be that some of the smell is trapped in that office,” said Burbank Unified Supt. Jan Britz at a recent school board meeting.

After school officials initiated air quality tests, the results on 93 chemicals came back negative or within permissible levels outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, Bell said.

Dana Ragle, a sixth-grade history and English teacher at Jordan, moved to another classroom this week after experiencing numbness in her tongue and lips and a burning in her lungs and throat, she said.

“It’s more of a taste in your throat. You don’t necessarily smell anything,” she said of the fumes. “We’re concerned, obviously, for our safety and want to make sure this is handled correctly.”

As of Friday, she said, no other teacher has switched classrooms, but she felt it was a necessary step after she experienced symptoms from the fumes.

“I was nervous for my students and my classroom,” she said.

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Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan

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