The Alisal Union School District has suspended mold repairs at six schools until the state finds the money to pay for the maintenance.
Earlier this year, the state Money Investment Board, which provides financing for public works construction, froze $4 billion in loans including about $9 million for the Alisal district.
As a result, the district was forced to stop mold repair projects for cafeterias at six schools.
The delay will force summer school students and those returning in the fall ' at Fremont, Alisal Community, Frank Paul, Virginia Rocca Barton, Jesse Sanchez and Bardin elementary schools to continue eating lunch in shifts inside smaller portable rooms.
"We were promised those funds," said school board President Jesus Velasquez. "It seems like the state has put education in the back burner."
At Virginia Rocca Barton School, the halt in the mold repairs means more than 200 students will eat lunch in a cramped lunchroom portable in one of three lunch schedules, according to Anastacio Cabral, the school's principal.
Barton's cafeteria has been closed for about five years; extensive mold damage left only the framing of the room intact, Cabral said.
"They [construction crews] removed everything," he said.
"They were supposed to start rebuilding it during the summer. The parents were really disappointed when I told them [the project would be delayed.]"
The district has struggled over the years to pay for mold repairs in nearly all of the 11 schools in the district, said Esperanza Zendejas, district superintendent.
Mold repair in classrooms became the priority at four schools John E. Steinbeck, Dr. Oscar F. Loya, Creekside and Cesar Chavez.
Those repairs were completed in January and students either already moved to the classrooms or will move by the beginning of the next school year, Zendejas said.
However, the second phase of the mold repair project hasn't been as successful. As the state's budget crisis worsened so did the prospects for completing the job at the six cafeterias.
When the state cut nearly $9 million in maintenance funding to the district, the board was forced to void the contracts it awarded construction companies for the job, Zendejas said.
The total cost for the mold removal is about $24.8 million, but the state has only paid about $7.7 million. The rest of the cost has been covered by Measure A funds a $90 million bond approved by Alisal voters in November 2006, she said.
A mother of a sixth-grader at Alisal Community School said though she's disappointed about the halt in the repairs, the situation reflects the state's current economic crisis.
"This is a problem in general," Edith Reyes said in Spanish. "No one has any money. Even if we try to avoid it, there's nothing we can do about it."