Parents picking up students Monday at Hinsdale Middle School were generally supportive of the idea of building a new school to replace the existing facility, which opened in 1976.
After undergoing a major cleanup because of mold and water issues in the building, HMS remains a major concern for the Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Elementary District 181 Board.
The School Board approved spending nearly $350,000 April 28 for the short-term solution to repair the roof at Hinsdale Middle School. By far the largest expense in the $346,248 repair of the roof is $161,000 for heat tracing, a process often used to melt ice on roofs and in gutters during winter months.
The board also has been talking about a possible future referendum that would ask taxpayers to fund the construction of a new school building.
“I haven’t really studied this, but my first reaction is to build a new school and patch the roof when needed as things go wrong,” said Sue Dressler. “I would support a referendum to build a new school.”
Christine Lovett was very definite about her feelings a new school building is needed. She was much less sure about what to do for the roof problems on the existing building.
“I think the School Board has done a good job with this, but it’s hard to know what to do about the roof,” she said. “They definitely should finally get a new building. My father-in-law (Bud Hines) was on the board when they built HMS, and he was against the way they built it then. It was a very poor design then, and it still is. They’ve also outgrown that building.”
While the recent mold and water issues at HMS have been the center of attention in discussions about building problems, poor natural lighting, bad acoustics and the general layout all are among problems that have been pointed out by members of the Facilities Committee and teachers.
“There are so few windows, and the lighting is terrible,” Lovett said. “The kids call it ‘the prison.’”
Looking at HMS from outside the building, Bob Felix said the building “kind of looks like a prison.”
“It probably is time to just get rid of this building and build a new one,” he said. “It’s tough to know what to do about the roof because you don’t want to spend too much on it if you’re going to have a new building coming.”
Parent Lisa Stokes said she would want to get more information before expressing a definite opinion about the HMS situation. But her initial feelings were similar to Lovett’s.
“They need to do something with the roof, but it’s hard to say what,” Stokes said.
Jill Biegansky, another parent, isn’t sure at this point what makes for the best option.
“I’d probably say for the roof that they should make the necessary repairs and decide what to do about the building,” she said.