The good news at Monday night’s special meeting of the Gainesville ISD Board of Trustees: There was no mold found at Robert E. Lee Intermediate School during a routine summer inspection of all GISD campuses.

The bad news: Several years’ worth of water damaged materials were found in between the bricks and the interior wall of the school.

“This building needs to be fixed, and it needs to be fixed properly,” said Bill Gravitt, acting superintendent of the GISD.

Facilities consultant Bill Brannum said with two months before the first day of class much of the damage can be fixed.

“All this is preliminary, I can’t stress that enough,” he said, noting it appears that water penetrated the porous, decorative glazed concrete blocks which line the top of the school and split-face brick which comprise a wainscoting around the exterior.

He said to eliminate the problem the porous blocks would have to be removed and replaced with more solid brick, and the interior walls would have to be replaced.

The GISD Board approved 4-0 a resolution authorizing repair to the 10-year-old building.

Brannum said the water damage was found while peeling back a section of wallpaper in the school.

“All that material has been enclosed in there for years,” Brannum said.

Board President Lisa Bellows said the wallpaper is coated with a heavy vinyl material.

Brannum said he and Facilities Director Brandon Boyter have “attacked this at every angle we possibly could’ve.”

A few alternatives were considered, and Brannum said the best option is to remove the brick along the affected areas and rebuild the wall completely. No cost estimate was available.

Part of the plan includes placing sealant and veneer over the new brick to prevent future leakage.

Brannum said a crew working 10-12 hours per day and six days a week could finish the job enough by the first day of school on Aug. 27 to accommodate fifth graders.

Gravitt said there is additional space on GISD campuses for the sixth grade students, including some classrooms at Gainesville Junior High School.

“We are going to be somewhat at the mercy of the weather,” Brannum added. “But with any break we can make a pretty good run at it.”

Brannum said an environmental specialist was called in to make a preliminary report, and the specialist said that no further professional services was required before reconstruction can begin.

Bellows said GISD officials expect to be reviewing construction records to see if there is any liability on the contractor’s side, but for now she said the priority is to rebuild the school with the first day of class just two months away.

In other business, the Board passed 4-0 a schedule of early release dates for staff development: Sept. 19 and Oct. 17, and Jan. 30, 2008. Janis Brannum, district curriculum coordinator, said the dates are all on Wednesdays so as not to interfere with coaches’ schedules.

Janis Brannum reported an effort to train teachers on student remediation went well.

The Board went into executive session around 7:30 p.m. to discuss personnel issues. No action was taken following the closed portion of the meeting.

Reporter Andy Hogue may be contacted at

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