HMS Facility Background and Updates 

Latest Update: May 21, 2014


July 2012

In mid-July of 2012, the Buildings and Grounds Department (B&G) discovered mold in an upstairs bathroom at Hinsdale Middle School (HMS). B&G staff searched for additional mold in the building; additional mold was found on the wall between the choir room and the music room, in the custodial closet in the kitchen area, and on the walls in other bathrooms. It was determined that the mold was due to several factors, all water related: a leak in a pipe, missing caulking in a custodial closet, and the manner in which bathrooms were mopped. A qualified, licensed mold remediation contractor worked under the supervision of environmental consultants Hygieneering, Inc. (Willowbrook, IL), who were engaged to abate all areas where mold was discovered. A local contractor, Robert Yiu Construction (Hinsdale, IL), replaced the drywall with a concrete drywall application, selected because it helps to prevent additional mold growth. Before the start of the 2012-13 school year, air quality tests were conducted, and it was confirmed that air quality was within federal and state requirements. Additionally, the leaking pipe was repaired, caulking was added to the custodial closet, and cleaning methods were addressed. 

August 2013

In mid-August, the HMS custodial staff discovered mold on the lower drywall of classroom 223 near an exterior window. B&G staff searched for additional mold in the building; additional mold was found in classrooms 225 and 228. Hygieneering, Inc. assisted in further evaluations and remediation of the identified mold. In the addressed areas, the bottom 2-4 feet of drywall was removed. Per a recommendation from Hygieneering, Inc., a mold and moisture assessment was conducted to evaluate whether or not similar conditions existed in other areas. The assessment included second floor perimeter rooms, including closets and accessible exterior, partition and interior walls. In all areas, no visible mold growth was observed on readily accessible drywall, and no moldy or musty odors were observed. Three small isolated sections of drywall indicated elevated moisture levels; no elevated moisture was observed above the vinyl base. The source of the moisture could not be determined. Hygieneering, Inc. recommended removal of the isolated sections of wet drywall within the next few months.

October 2013 / Columbus Day Weekend

Previously planned work per the recommendation from Hygieneering, Inc. was completed. Isolated sections of wet drywall were removed and replaced. Hygieneering, Inc. confirmed the area was safe for students and staff to return to school following the three-day Columbus Day weekend. Hygieneering, Inc. suggested engaging a structural engineering firm to review the moisture findings and assist in identifying the source(s). A firm was contacted and suggested a detailed building inspection when weather conditions permitted. 

November 26 – December 23, 2013 

Integrity Environmental Services (Naperville) was contracted to conduct an independent air quality test due to the previous mold issues at the school and staff reports of health concerns. The air quality test was conducted at various times between November 26 and December 23. (Results were received on Tuesday, January 14; results showed the air quality to be well within acceptable guidelines.) 

Saturday, January 4 

At approximately 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 4, an HMS teacher was in the school and observed water dripping in the music room. The teacher contacted the principal, who contacted the B&G Facilities Coordinator. A frozen domestic water pipe in room 215 was shut off, and the leak was stopped. Buckets were placed under the leaks until the flow of water ceased. At approximately 8:00 p.m., the District received a call from Hinsdale Fire Department. They responded to an alarm triggered by water flow in the sprinkler system, due to the extreme weather. The Hinsdale Fire Department’s responsive and immediate efforts to address the resulting water damage were exceptional. B&G Staff joined Hinsdale Fire on scene. The water damage affected all three floors. ACR (Wheeling), a disaster recovery company which previously worked with the District, was called in to assist with the clean up. They were on site with staff and equipment within five hours of the alarm to clear the water, dehumidify the air, and install HEPA filters to clean the air. The ACR crew and B&G staff worked collaboratively to address the building needs over the course of the next several hours, into the morning of Sunday, January 5. The alarm company was on site to reset and reactivate the alarm and temporarily repair the sprinkler break. 

Sunday, January 5

District 181 joined neighboring districts throughout the region in announcing that the entire District would be closed on Monday, January 6 due to the extreme cold weather. The cleaning at HMS continued through the day. Fans, dehumidifiers and air scrubbers with HEPA filtration continued to operate throughout the school to expedite the drying process.

Monday, January 6

District 181 schools were not in session. District 181 announced that the entire District would be closed on Tuesday, January 7, again due to the extreme cold. Cleaning and air filtration continued throughout the day. MRC books were placed in temporary shelves and cases. 

Tuesday, January 7

District 181 schools were not in session. Cleaning continued throughout the day in preparation for students and staff to return to school on Wednesday, January 8.

Wednesday, January 8

Shortly before student and staff arrival to school, a domestic water pipe broke in room 216, causing additional water damage to the music room below. Crews continued to clean and address the building needs. Some classrooms were unusable, and affected staff were moved to other areas of the building.

Thursday, January 9

Cleaning continued throughout the day as exterior temperatures rose. The increase in temperature caused water to briefly drip from the roof onto the ceiling of the second floor, identified through water spots on the ceiling tiles.

Friday, January 10

Integrity Environmental Services, Inc. conducted an air quality test. (Results were received on Thursday, January 16; results showed the air quality to be well within acceptable guidelines.) Replacement bookshelves were ordered for the MRC. Rain on January 10 exceeded the capacity of the school’s gutter and downspout systems, which were compromised by ice build-up. As temperatures warmed and ice vacated the gutters, interior leaks subsided substantially.

January 10, 11, 12 

B&G staff provided 24-hour monitoring of the building to ensure no additional weather-related leaks would appear and no other mechanical systems were compromised during the extreme weather. 

Monday, January 13

Cleaning continued throughout the day. A regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting was held that evening. Two staff members provided public comment regarding student and staff health concerns. Former Superintendent Dr. Renée Schuster and Board members discussed the need to develop both short- and long-term solutions, as well as address the root cause(s) of the building’s issues. The District Facilities Committee provided a report to the Board. (The committee began meeting in October 2013 to develop a Master Facilities Plan, with a primary focus of addressing HMS.) Joining the committee for the Board presentation were representatives from architectural firm Healy, Bender and Associates (Naperville, IL). The Board approved the firm’s development of an Educational Adequacy Analysis, to include an analysis of the air quality test results (not yet received at that time).

Tuesday, January 14

Results from the air quality test conducted in November and December were received on Tuesday, January 14; results showed the air quality to be well within acceptable guidelines. Healy, Bender and Associates architects had suggested working with SERVPRO (LaGrange, Burr Ridge, Hinsdale, IL). District leaders met with SERVPRO representatives on January 14; they toured the facility and highlighted areas that had not yet dried.

Wednesday, January 15

SERVPRO began working at the school.

Thursday, January 16

Results from the air quality test conducted on January 10 were received; results showed the air quality to be well within acceptable guidelines. SERVPRO tested walls for wetness and removed drywall; their staff identified possible mold growth. A representative from Integrity Environmental Services took surface samples of possible mold growth observed by SERVPRO staff, who were on site to perform deep cleaning and removal of wet drywall. (Results from the sampling were received January 18.) It was announced that HMS would be closed on Friday, January 17 as District leaders awaited the results of the mold test and allowed additional time for SERVPRO to clean the building and continue addressing affected areas with no students or staff present. It was anticipated the school would be open on Tuesday, January 21.

Friday, January 17

HMS was not in session; all other District 181 schools remained open. SERVPRO staff continued to clean and address affected areas. Roof architect Arcon (Lombard, IL) was on site to assess any roof damage to provide an estimate for work that may be needed. The school’s building engineer identified a water leak in the main city water line coming into the building, likely due to the extreme weather changes. It was considered an extremely minimal leak, but required shutting off the water to the building and then repair. (Fire protection water is separate; that system was not compromised.) 

Saturday, January 18

Written results from the mold test conducted on January 16 were received; results from the samples showed low concentrations of mold spores on the drywall and surface samples tested. The SERVPRO staff continued to clean and sealed areas to prevent future mold growth. During their work, it was determined that additional time was needed due to the scale of work and the need to clean the MRC carpets. Renovations began in rooms 215 and 216, with remaining floor tile removed in room 216 and substantial drywall work completed in room 215. Additionally, the two domestic water pipe leaks were repaired. A mold test was conducted at the end of the day to determine any change in mold levels; results are expected by Wednesday, January 22. 

Sunday, January 19 

Cleaning continued throughout the day. A  conversation with representatives from SERVPRO and Integrity Environmental Services indicated that two additional steps to remediate the mold found in HMS should be recommended to the Board of Education for completion prior to resuming classes. These recommendations involved cleaning the ductwork throughout the building and removing the cove molding (baseboards) and any drywall that touches the flooring. These recommendations were unanimously approved by the Board during their emergency meeting on Monday, January 20.  

Monday, January 20

The HMS building was closed to allow the needed time to clean the building and remove the baseboards. The Board of Education held an emergency meeting on Monday, January 20 for the purpose of addressing HMS facility issues. The Board heard reports from Integrity Environmental Services and SERVPRO and approved two expenditures (as described above, on January 19) related to additional steps to address facilities needs at HMS.

Tuesday, January 21

The HMS building was closed to allow the needed time to clean the building and remove the baseboards. Students and staff were not in attendance. The Board of Education held an emergency meeting on Tuesday, January 21 to discuss the instructional plan for HMS students.  

Wednesday, January 22

The HMS building was closed to allow the needed time to clean the building and remove the baseboards. HMS students were not in attendance on January 22. HMS staff participated in professional development and planning at Prospect School and collaboration with their CHMS counterparts to prepare for the split schedule that would begin January 23.


Thursday, January 23 - Tuesday, February 4

The split schedule with Clarendon Hills Middle School began on Thursday, January 23. The last split schedule day was Monday, February 3. HMS students returned to their school for classes on Tuesday, February 4.


Next Steps

Please stay tuned to the column at right and Board Agendas, Board Minutes, and Board Summaries for information about next steps in the facility work that have taken place.

Weekly Updates

The documents below are weekly updates on the work taking place at HMS to address facility issues. The updates are being provided to help HMS staff, families and all community members stay informed regarding these efforts. The safety of students and staff is our highest priority, and we will continue to work with our stakeholders to address the building needs.