District 181 Board member calls Hinsdale Middle School ‘an embarrassment’ over roof issue

The Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Elementary District 181 Board continues to discuss plans for the future of Hinsdale Middle School. | File photo
The Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Elementary District 181 Board continues to discuss plans for the future of Hinsdale Middle School. | File photo

While the future of the Hinsdale Middle School building has yet to be determined, the Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Elementary District 181 Board has ruled out spending more than $2 million to replace the roof.

Instead, the board is interested in possibly repairing the roof while also gauging the community’s opinion about a future referendum to seek funds for the construction of a new middle school.

HMS, which was built in 1976, recently went through a major cleanup because of mold and water issues in the building. However, the roof remains a concern. The majority of the roof on the building is original.

Board members listened April 21 to a recommendation from the district’s Facilities Committee to spend $328,000 to repair the HMS roof as a short-term solution while also seeking a long-term solution to a building with many problems.

A lack of natural light, poor acoustics, safety and security issues, a poor internal layout, and not enough room all are problems with HMS, said Julie Bryant, a member of the Facilities Committee.

“We’re at a crossroad,” Bryant said. “We believe the expenditure for a new roof will preclude us from looking at the big picture and the long-term solutions.”

The board also heard from Grant Sabo, interim facilities coordinator, who is in favor of replacing the roof.

“If we just repair the roof, we already know we will continue to experience more leaks,” Sabo said. “Continued leaks will continue to negatively effect the infrastructure of the building and increase the potential of future mold growth.”

Sabo said if the building is to be kept, even for different use, the roof should be replaced.

“It’s cheaper to do it now, and if HMS is sold, a new roof is an asset,” he said.

After ruling out replacement of the roof because of the cost, board members discussed the possibilities of repairs and of taking no action while focusing instead on an attempt to build a new school.

“I think HMS is an embarrassment,” said board member Michael Nelson. “The roof is kind of a red herring. We need to invest ourselves in a referendum to build what we really need to put there.”

Board member Gary Clarin supported the idea of focusing on community input about the school’s future.

“We can have an answer within a year and then decide where to go from there,” he said.

The board is scheduled to discuss the future of the middle school again at its April 28 meeting.

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