- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Law Enforcement Academy’s director says demolishing the agency’s facility is the best way to deal with the underlying causes that led to high levels of black mold in the building.

The academy received word Monday that the amount of mold spores in the air has returned to normal level, The Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/1MIiwsw ) reports.

But director Judy Bradshaw says the cleaning is only a bandage for the old, decrepit building.

“I don’t know that we have years to wait,” she said.

She estimates that renovations would cost between $6 million and $10 million, and completely replacing the building would be about $15 million.

The academy is one of at least three state buildings that need serious renovations, but lawmakers say there isn’t money in Iowa’s budget to pay for them. Gov. Terry Branstad also has opposed issuing bonds to fund infrastructure updates.

Air tests in December showed high levels of mold, which led to an intensive cleaning of the building’s ductwork and ventilation systems. Bradshaw said administrators thought about relocating faculty and students because of safety concerns, but declined to instead act as quickly as possible to remove the mold.

Branstad said he is aware of the mold issue and has had conversations about how to address it.

“I was recently at the Law Enforcement Academy and had an opportunity to have a review of that, and I know they’re working on that issue,” the governor said. “And we’re looking at what we can do in the future.”

Rep. Clel Baudler, R-Greenfield, said it’s urgent for lawmakers to address the problem though new construction or renovation. But he noted that there’s likely no money in the budget to pay for either project.

He said the Legislature’s decision to dedicate 87 percent of new revenue for kindergarten through 12th grade education this year.

“That was probably a very stupid thing that we did,” Baudler said. “And for education to ask for that plus more. . It’s almost shame on them.”

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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