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Testing is under way at the newly reconstructed School Seven on Lake Shore Drive East to determine if new materials in the building are making pupils and teachers sick.

Several pupils and staff members have developed redness, rashes and breathing problems since Christmas, Superintendent Terry Wolfenden said Tuesday night.

Extensive testing has been under way, and consultants have been called in to determine whether there is a problem.

The district has been working with the safety specialist from the Erie II Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES and Nellie Brown from Cornell University. Ms. Brown's report is due shortly, Miss Wolfenden said.

The Niagara Frontier Testing Laboratory has been monitoring air quality for such substances as carbon dioxide or gases coming from the new materials in the building.

At the recommendation of Ms. Brown, the ventilation system has been adjusted to bring in 100 percent fresh air 24 hours per day, seven days per week, Miss Wolfenden said.

Prior to Christmas break, about seven or eight of the 18 employees in the building complained of various symptoms. The building has 276 pupils in kindergarten through fifth grade, and attendance has been "excellent, in the 95 percent range," Miss Wolfenden said.

Joseph Sweeny, president of the Dunkirk Teachers Association, said Tuesday that a grievance on health and safety grounds had been filed with the superintendent.

He said two members of the union have suffered long-term disabilities as a result of problems with the school and others have become ill with rashes, respiratory problems and sores.

The union wants the district to pay medical costs not covered by insurance and for lost sick days. Some individuals may file workmen's compensation claims, he added.

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