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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mold Closes Elementary School

Although the building has been closed for three years, the West Aurora School District is faced with the problem of eliminating mold at Lincoln Elementary School.

District employees recently discovered an infestation of mold in the basement of the building. There are no immediate plans for using the building, but administrators want to keep it in potentially usable condition, which means remediating the mold.

“At this point we’re going to want to keep it as an open option,” Superintendent James Rydland said Monday.

The item will be on the School Board agenda again in two weeks, for the Oct. 17 meeting. Administrators recommended accepting a $42,000 bid to have the mold removed.

Assistant Superintendent of Operations Pete Kerl said that he asked the contractor what would happen if they did nothing to remove the mold.

“The answer was that you would see it spread throughout the school,” Kerl said.

Board member Mark Bradford said that he wanted to see more of a conversation about planning take place before the district advances with the issue. If they end up with no other recourse than to demolish the building in a few years, Bradford said he did not want to see money spent on these types of repairs.

“Are we going to throw $42,000 at this and the building stays vacant?” Bradford said.

Rydland said he does not want to be in a position where they need to use the building because of high attendance at other schools, and cannot because of the mold problem. Administrators recently made the difficult decision to put a roof on Nancy Hill School, another old building, for similar reasons.

Universal Asbestos Removal won the bid for the mold removal project. Universal will essentially be removing all moisture from the moldy areas. There was no running water in the affected area, but moisture was seeping through the walls.

The south Lake Street school building was closed three years ago, and students were sent to other schools in order to reduce the district’s operating budget. Closing the school has saved the district more than $900,000 in operating costs. Administrators want to account for a possible future need, or sale of the building, however.

“It may be tantamount to if you want to sell your house,” board member Allyson Herget said. “We’re going to want to make it all spiffy.”

Rydland said he wants to take care of the building whether the district is using it or not, so that it does not go into a state of disrepair.

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