Hinsdale Middle School will remain closed through at least Jan. 28 while measures are taken to fix a mold problem in the building.
With about 150 people in attendance Monday, the Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Elementary District 181 Board unanimously approved spending $384,512 for duct work cleaning and baseboard removal measures recommended by Integrity Environmental Services and SERVPRO, two companies working to fix problems. Work is expected to be completed Jan. 26; additional time is needed to test the air and surfaces after work has been completed.
District officials have been looking for alternative sites to use while HMS is closed and are leaning toward using a split or alternate day schedule at Clarendon Hills Middle School.
Ed Smith of SERVPRO said completing the duct work cleaning and baseboard removal measures will solve the remaining problem.
“We are quite confident that if the work is completed, it will not return,” he said. “Ninety percent (of the mold) has been removed from the property; we’re still in the process of searching the property and will remove anything else we find.”
The nearly $385,000 in costs for the work approved Monday breaks down to $255,000 for duct work cleaning and $129,512 for baseboard removal measures. Insurance is expected to cover the cost of duct work, Smith said.
Mark Ravanesi, president of Integrity Environmental Services, said there are no regulations limiting mold levels in buildings, only industry standards.
“Mold affects people differently,” he said.
While nobody is happy about the mold and water issues, Heather Scott, co-president of the Hinsdale Clarendon Hills Teachers’ Association and a sixth-grade language arts teacher at HMS, said she is thrilled with the way the situation is being handled by the district.
“We’re happy that it’s being acknowledged and very quickly now,” she said.
Scott said she recently has been inside HMS with representatives of the two companies.
“I feel much better after actually seeing what they are doing and listening to them talk about it,” Scott said. “I would feel very confident about being back inside the building with the additional work being done.”
Scott urged community members to take a close-up look inside HMS themselves. District officials said that opportunity will be given when work is completed.
Gary Frisch, assistant superintendent of business and operations, said since the water pipe burst Jan. 4, direct costs related to mold, water, and moisture issues have included a $1,000 insurance deductible and $15,000 for bookcases
“The bookcases were purchased for the Hinsdale Middle School Media Resource Center to replace those that were water damaged and add book storage in line with future MRC plans, to separate the MRC space from the surrounding hallway and create more open space within the MRC,” Frisch said.
Additional costs will be presented at a future board meeting to replace the roof and also seal and insulate gaps in the exterior walls where cold air has been entering the building. Cost estimates for these have been requested of SERVPRO and the district’s architect.
Frisch said the district is working first to address the immediate needs of the school to ensure a safe learning and working environment for students and staff.