Dare Ed Board approves $933K to fix humidity, mold problems at FFES and FFMS 

By on August 16, 2023

Work begins immediately, schools expected to be ready for Aug. 28 first day

Participating remotely in an emergency meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 16, the Dare County Board of Education approved spending about $933,000 to immediately address humidity control and mold cleanup problems created by inoperable boilers in First Flight Elementary and First Flight Middle schools.

Builder Services, the company awarded the cleanup and humidity control contract in the amount of $932,754, is expected to arrive on the Outer Banks on Aug. 16 and immediately begin work in the two buildings.

The board also authorized Dare Schools Superintendent Steve Basnight to negotiate a contract with a second company, most likely ECS according to Basnight, to do air quality testing in the two schools. Basnight said that firm will arrive on the Outer Banks on Aug. 17, and expects the initial contract to cost around $6,000.

The two First Flight school buildings are now closed but are slated to be ready for the beginning of the school year on Aug. 28. “My expectation is…we’ll have teachers back in the buildings by next Wednesday [Aug. 23],” Basnight told the Voice, “with clean air.”

Basnight said he learned about the extent of the problem last week when it was reported there was mold inside the buildings.

Addressing school board members at the Aug. 16 emergency meeting, Basnight explained that as part of a process that began more than two years ago, the schools’ boilers have been replaced, but can’t be used because a necessary part is not yet available. While the air conditioning in the two buildings is functioning, he noted that “we still don’t have control of the humidity in the building.” That has led to dampness and mold growth on surfaces such as computer cases, furniture, tables and carpets.

As Basnight stated in an Aug. 16 letter to families with students in the two schools, “In spite of the best efforts of our custodians, maintenance, and building staffs who have worked tirelessly to clean this up and treat the surfaces with recommended products, the inability to control the humidity has forced us to repeat this process multiple times over the last week. As a result, we are contracting with a company that does mold mitigation nationwide.”

Both the motion to approve the contract with Builder Services and the authorization for Basnight to hire the air quality testing company were approved by 6-0 margins, with David Twiddy absent from the call-in conference.

During a brief discussion of the contracts, several issues were raised by board members. Carl Woody asked if air quality testing could continue for some time after the cleanup work is done—a suggestion that was met with approval. Mary Ellon Ballance asked whether any of the cleanup costs would be covered by insurance, with Basnight responding that the school administration is researching that matter.

In his letter to school families, Basnight stated that “Our goal is to have both buildings fully cleaned and ready for our staff by Wednesday, August 23rd, with a clean air quality report….We also are establishing an Incident Response Team within the District that will consist of the Assistant Superintendent, Director of Security, Elementary and Secondary Directors, our Public Information Officer, the Dare County Director of Health and Human Services, the Dare County Public Health Nurse Supervisor, Maintenance Director, Director of Human Resources, and myself to monitor the situation and answer any questions.”

“All of our efforts to address this issue are driven by our desire to ensure the health and safety of our staff and students,” the letter stated.



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BP0750: Metal Panels

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BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

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BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

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Sussex Development is soliciting bids to turnkey supply and install FF&E for the new Tulls Creek Elementary School, 125 Campus Drive, Moyock, NC27929. This project is a new ground-up 2-story, Pre-K thru 5th grade school, approximately 118,000 square feet. Bid documents may be obtained through Christopher West Interiors LLC. Request bid documents via email to interiors@cwiusa.com. Pre-Bid RFIs will be accepted via email until Wednesday, July 31, 2024 at 5:00PM EST. Pricing proposals are due Wednesday, August 14, 2024 by 5:00PM EST. All bids and inquires to be sent to interiors@cwiusa.com. Certified NC Hub, MBE, WBE, DBE, SBE are highly encouraged to participate. Sussex Development is an EOE and maintains a drug-free workplace.



  • Kristy

    I wonder how long this has been an issue🤷‍♀️Must be extensive, 933K.

    Wednesday, Aug 16 @ 7:52 pm
  • Ann Sumners

    I opened FFES in 1991 and within the first 3-4 years we would return to school in August to find mold and mildew on our books and furniture. A parent forced the county to address the problem in mid 1990’s and it did improve in the following years. I’m sure this is new now but the building has definitely had issues since the beginning. I wish Steve Basnight had been in charge at that time and thank him for acting so quickly!

    Wednesday, Aug 16 @ 11:38 pm
  • Louise

    Our son went to FFES back in the mid 90’s and there were alot of issues with mold back then. So is this a new issue or a continuous issue?

    Thursday, Aug 17 @ 9:56 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    I can only say that the Supt. indicated he had only learned about this newest problem last week.

    Thursday, Aug 17 @ 12:50 pm
  • Louise

    Thank you Mark.

    Thursday, Aug 17 @ 2:12 pm
  • Dave S

    A little fuzzy on the details —- the real problem is attributable to inoperable boilers (presumably the dehumidification parts) that have already been paid for, and to address it the county is now going to spend $1MM to work around it with a different solution? And this will be a permanent solution or just to clean up what is there now?

    Thursday, Aug 17 @ 6:58 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    According to school officials, the $933K contract is to clean up the mold and control the humidity until the arrival of the part that will make the boilers functional.

    Thursday, Aug 17 @ 9:24 pm
  • Local Bob

    This is what happens when they let a Yankee transplant in charge! Imagine not understanding how humidity works. And we have to pay for the mistake now

    Monday, Aug 21 @ 10:19 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Local, who’s the dreaded Yankee transplant?

    Monday, Aug 21 @ 5:10 pm
  • Larry

    Mark, do you really want local Bob to call them out by name just so you can not publish it ? Or are you willing to stand by your question …

    Wednesday, Aug 23 @ 12:00 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    I make no promises on whether I will or won’t publish his comment. But I certainly didn’t understand who he was talking about.

    Wednesday, Aug 23 @ 1:11 pm