HINSDALE – Hinsdale Middle School's closure due to mold appears to be getting closer to an end, but a new hurdle recently arose with the recent discovery of asbestos in "very low percentages" at the school.
A District 181 letter sent Monday to the community stated that it is unlikely that any students or staff would have been exposed to airborne asbestos, and the testing by Integrity Environmental Services shows no reason to be concerned about asbestos exposure.
"The rooms were cleaned three times now, there will be a fourth, and we feel confident there was never an issue [with asbestos] in those rooms," Mark Ravanesi, president of Integrity Energy Services, said at Monday's business meeting at Elm School.
In early January, the district addressed water damage at Hinsdale Middle School and worked throughout the affected areas of the building to soak up water and remove items that had been water damaged. Room 124, the music room, was the most affected classroom due to water coming in from the ceiling.
The risers in the music room were constructed with wood framing and plywood platforms covered with vinyl tile. The risers were therefore disassembled and removed from the room on Jan. 7 and during this removal a small amount of tiles were broken.
Asbestos is harmful only if the fibers contained in the materials become airborne and typically after extended exposure, according to the district.
Ravanesi said the likelihood of a fiber release in the school is "extremely remote at best." The company has tested the room and surrounding areas following a report of possible asbestos to administration on Jan. 21
"We continue to agitate the air and to find absolutely no structures, which incidentally the clearance criteria could be met with some asbestos fibers found, we found zero and there's been wind, air, blowing around in those rooms since Day 1," he said.
School board president Marty Turek said asbestos is a scary word when people hear it and was glad Ravanesi could address the issue.
"It sounds like you guys went above and beyond, which I appreciate," Turek said.
Mold eradication is "continuing well" at Hinsdale Middle School as it was announced at Monday's business meeting that ductwork cleaning is expected to start Tuesday.
"We're now on the home stretch and I believe we'll be completely clean by [Tuesday]," said Edward Smith, project manager with SERVPRO. "I fully expect us to meet our deadline."
Smith said the company re-insulated and re-drywalled and installed everything throughout the school.
"It equals to about two miles of drywall replacement," Smith said.
Gary Frisch, associate superintendent for business, said the total cost of the project to date is $483, 773.
Ductwork cleaning is expected to continue throughout the week before the building will be turned over to IES so air samples can be taken.
"I believe you'll be holding class Monday morning in those rooms," Smith said.
An open house is tentatively planned from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday. The district plans to confirm the date no later than Friday.