Friday, January 24, 2014

Hinsdale Middle School No Longer Projected to Re-Open Before Monday, February 3.

This afternoon Dr. Schuster sent an email to parents.  Text copied below.

Key points made in the email are:

  • Classes at HMS will not resume until Monday, February 3.  
  • SERVPRO will not be finished with the baseboard/drywall removal and duct cleaning by Sunday as previously projected. The new date is Friday, January 31.
  • Integrity Environmental Services will not conduct testing on Sunday as previously projected, but will do so after SERVPRO finishes on January 31. Test results should be ready by Sunday when an Open House will be held for parents and staff.
  • According to Dr. Schuster, this timeline is now "fluid" and further delays "are possible."
  • Recognizing that split schedules cannot go on indefinitely, the administration is investigating other sites to move HMS students to if further delays occur.  At the January 27 Board Meeting, it will present the Board with "initial consideration" for off site locations.
  • In light of the return of sub-zero weather, all schools might be cancelled next Monday.  (The high school parents received an email today with this advisory, but it said school might be cancelled Monday and Tuesday).  Guess we all better hope the cold winds shift!
We are frustrated.  No mention of possible delays was made in Dr. Schuster's email to parents last night.  Why did it take all week for parents to learn of a five day delay for completion of the work by SERVPRO?  On Monday, Board Member Clarin asked Dr. Schuster to provide the D181 community with daily updates.  On Tuesday, Dr. Schuster told the Board that SERVPRO was a full day ahead of schedule.  Then no further "timeline" updates were received until 3:20 p.m. today, after the elementary schools had recessed for the day.  

If parents are to trust the information coming from the Administration, it should not just be timely, but it must be complete.  Our understanding is that teachers knew about the delay yesterday.  Did the Board?  If so, we are asking the Board Members to please advise Dr. Schuster that she should give us not just good news, but the bad news, as it comes in.  We are all grown ups.  We can take it. 

Dr. Schuster's email to parents:

January 24, 2014
Dear District 181 Community,

This message is to (1) provide you with an update on the progress taking place at Hinsdale Middle School and (2) outline the timeline regarding middle school student instruction in the coming days.

HMS Progress
  • The second floor has been completely remediated of drywall that showed any type of mold. It had become apparent as the baseboard was removed that mold extended up the wall in several areas. This has all been removed, the interior of the walls has been treated, and insulation and new microbial gyp board has been installed.
  • The science rooms, which had been hardest hit by the water damage, are now fully insulated. New microbial drywall has been installed, and the floors are now being addressed. All of the science lab water pipes and drains have been checked for leaks and corrected.
  • The MRC carpeting has been steam cleaned and disinfected. This work will be done again when the final cleaning of the second floor is completed.
  • All lockers on the second floor were moved away from the walls and where mold was present, the drywall was removed and replaced with microbial gyp board. The lockers are being re-installed and cleaning of the second floor began today.
  • On the first floor, the baseboard has been removed, and the remediation of the mold on the drywall is about 40% complete. The first floor will continue to be addressed in the same manner as the second floor. Open walls will be treated, insulated and microbial gyp board installed. Taping and compound has been applied to the drywall on the second floor, and this will also be done on the first floor.


SERVPRO anticipates that the final cleaning will begin on Monday, January 27 and continue into Tuesday, January 28. The ductwork cleaning is slated to begin on Wednesday, January 29 and completed by Friday, January 31. At that time, Integrity Environmental Services would be called in for final air testing. With this timeline in place, an open house would be held for HMS families and staff on Sunday, February 2, and the school would re-open on Monday, February 3.
 Unless a change in the timeline is presented, the split schedule with CHMS will continue through January 31.

It is important we are clear that this a fluid timeline. It is possible the work may be completed sooner, and it is possible there may be further delays. If we have additional news on the progress of the work at HMS, we will share that information via email and on the Facility Updates webpage.

Knowing that further delays in the timeline are possible, the administration is continuing to investigate other locations for HMS student instruction should another location be needed. At the Board meeting on Monday, January 27 (Elm School, 7:00 p.m.), the administration will present initial considerations for off-site locations. In addition, representatives from SERVPRO and Healy, Bender and Associates architectural firm will be at the meeting to provide an update on the progress at HMS and discuss the facility needs.

We encourage HMS and CHMS families to visit the Facility Updates webpage for a variety of daytime activities being offered by area organizations for the middle school students while they are not in school.

Community support of our middle schools has been greatly appreciated as we continue to work together to keep student learning moving forward.

On another note, we are aware that extreme cold weather is being forecasted for early next week in the Chicago area. As with any weather-related alert, we would notify you of a District-wide school cancelation via email, phone, the District website, Twitter, the Emergency School Closing Center and local media.

Thank you for your attention to these important updates.

Dr. Renée Schuster


Anonymous said...

The question that should be asked: What HAS been found this week at HMS???

Not good!

Anonymous said...

Check out Board Docs. ABC news filed a FOIA on the mold issue requesting all documents dating back to 2008.

Mr. Everett said...

2008, what was that three or four superintendents back...

The folks that want a shiny new school undoubtedly have friends at ABC.

Now instead of the district spending time working to improve instructional efforts and reverse and downward trends in performance the BOE will waste time arguing over ridiculously costly new middle school.

Nice distriaction, short sighted fools..l

Anonymous said...

Mr. Everett: I actually agree with you that the board is primarily made up of short sighted fools. I certainly hope that neither the Administration or Board waste time wrangling over the ABC FOIA request, as they have over other FOIA requests. Remember, both Turek and Nelson have publicly stated that they want to get out of the business of FOIA. Instead, the district should fully comply with this request, within the week allotted for its response, so the teachers, staff, parents and students -- and perhaps even the board -- can see exactly what the Administration knew about mold and health concerns before this polar vortex initiated crisis. It is important to shine a light on this because the teachers have publicly stated that their concerns have been ignored for years. If that is the case, do we really want to keep an administration in place that is only reactive to a crisis and not proactive? Especially now as you point out when we need to spend time working to improve the curriculum and reverse the downward trend? Based upon some of your earlier comments, you might respond that one superintendent is as good as another, but I disagree. Trust in the leader of the organization is needed if you want everyone to get on board. That trust, I believe was broken even before this mold issue because Dr. Schuster has ignored teacher and parent curriculum concerns regarding her ever name changing curriculum revamp, but now, the trust has been irretrievably broken. I sincerely hope that the BOE realizes this and for the sake of the long term success of the district cleans house, and soon.

Anonymous said...

I stringly feel that the information is being downplayed as it is reported to the community.

Anonymous said...

^ strongly

Jill Quinones said...

Just a point of fact. 2008 was 2 or 3 Superintendents ago depending on how you count. Dr. Tenbusch "retired" June 2008 and Dr. Rober Sabatino served as interim until our current Superintendent took over in July 2010.

Anonymous said...

Is it ACCEPTABLE for this administration to say, well, there is mold and on-going issues with the building, but we’re not going to deal with it because it originated on our predecessor’s watch? Of course not! I will say that this superintendent inherited a problem that should’ve been dealt with by the previous administration or the one before that or the one before that. But it wasn’t. It has been a problem that has been passed down from administration to administration. And our current administration knew it and they should have taken action, especially since there have been numerous complaints since they took office. But they didn’t. Bottom line is that it demonstrates negligence and poor leadership for an individual who is in charge of an organization to ignore a hazardous situation when there is documented evidence that teachers, staff, and students have been at risk. There are no excuses. And attempting to use a sniff test to hide what they knew was behind those walls is reprehensible.

Anonymous said...

Didn't they say they started air quality testing in October to look for evidence of mold? Maybe they should have been doing more, but its not accurate to say they were totally ignoring it.

Anonymous said...

Parents, was the BOE aware of the air quality testing in November and December-prior to the polar vortex fall out? It seems to me that they were blindsided at the first emergency meeting to learn this information? If indeed they did not know, why didn't the administration communicate this information?

The Parents said...

Similarly, was the Board ever made aware of teacher and student health concerns related to possible mold in the building? When were the first health concerns reported to the Administration and when were they first reported to the Board? If the board did not learn about them until the Union Co-President and an HMS teacher made public comment at the January 13 board meeting, then they need to ask Dr. Schuster for an explanation. If teachers have been complaining for years, then why did the administration wait until last October and November to conduct air quality tests. And lets not forget that despite all of the tests coming back within acceptable limits, SERVPRO reported to the board this month that upon visual inspection after removal of baseboards and drywall, mold was found in 90% of the areas that had passed the air quality testing.

Mr. Belt said...

I think it's offensive to say that the Board of Education is made up of "short sighted fools". If you actually attend or listen to the board meetings, you will find that the majority of these people are actually very well prepared. They ask important questions and seem to be trying to do the best they can for our community. They should be applauded for their commitment to our children rather than vilified for not giving in to the mob mentality of dismissing the administration at any cost. Allow the BOE to do their job, which is extremely difficult and as they display with their actions and words, not being taken lightly.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but have you actually listened to more than the last few meetings or read Board Docs for the last year? The only two board members who consistently ask questions both to prepare for and then at the meetings are Brendan Heneghan and Mridu Garg. Michael Nelson has hardly been to any meetings in one year, and even when he calls in he has almost nothing to add, except to say "Ay" when a vote is taken or to commend the administration for all their work. Gary Clarin has stepped up recently, we would agree, but it took the Donoroo issue at CHMS and now mold at HMS for him to really become involved. Prior to that he seemed willing to just agree with the educational "expertise" of the administrators and vote yes on everything. Yaeger is a bully toward people who step up to make comments -- has been for years. Vorobiev runs a good meeting, but is clearly still figuring our that she can go against the majority and advocate for what is right, not just on facilities issues but also curriculum issues. Turek is simply a tool for Dr. Schuster and doesn't even realize it.

Yes, we need to let the BOE do its job, now more than ever, but all of them need to put in the time before, during and after meetings to really understand the issues and then work with each other at meetings to make long sighted, responsible decisions.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Belt - I frequently attend BOE meetings and listen in if I can't physically be there. I disagree with your statement that the majority of the BOE comes prepared. The only two who come prepared are Garg and Heneghan. However, I will say that Clarin seems to be coming around and has been very good during this HMS crisis. The vote is out on Vorobiev. She has potential to be effective, but I think she is just going along with the majority right now and not asking the thoughtful questions I would expect of an attorney. The rest don't show up, play on their computers or patronizingly try to shut down important discussions.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Belt

I see you are one of the infrequent designated administration support commentators. They typically became completely silent when faced with a question--please provide examples. Please provide examples of how the majority of the board members ask good questions, come prepared, and suggest in any way that they have spent time on these matters. I do agree that Clarin and Jill V are coming around, but the other three are literally checked out. They have repeatedly stated that it is not their job to "micromanage" and so not only are they checked out, the proudly proclaim it is there role.

Now, you are correct that a fellow commentator, a Mr. Everett, has made unfounded statements. He referred to people as shortsighted fools as though there has been a grand and distracting movement to build a new middle school. That is simply not the case. The complaints have centered around curriculum and not the inability of the superintendent to be in Illinois and manage the district