Meridian Elementary School, in Mounds, Ill., was condemned on Oct 4 because the excessive presence of black mold makes the building unfit for human occupation, WPSD-TV (NBC affiliate) reports.
Meridian Elementary-Middle School, as posted on the district’s website (by Freeze Frame Photography)
The school last year supported about 450 K–8 students, but students this year have been attending classes at Meridian High School.
“It’s emotional for everybody—teachers, staff, students, even the alumni,” the news station quoted Principal Brent Boren, who first detected mold back in May, as saying.
According to a press release issued by the Illinois State Board of Education, plans for demolition and reconstruction haven’t been made yet. When the school was first constructed, more than 30 years ago, local code didn’t require a vapor barrier between brick, insulation, and drywall. The sudden appearance of mold has been blamed on the rise in moisture in recent years, including a rainy spring several months ago. But whatever caused it, the school building is a lost cause.
The nearby high school has had some moisture damage as well. The building lacks windows in the classroom sections, which contributes to the buildup of mold. “It creates what we call a pod,” the Southeast Missourian quoted Superintendent of Schools Janet Ulrich as saying. “These three pods where the classrooms are located, it’s bricked up with no windows. It’s brick walls, insulation, and drywall, so lights never exist. It contributes to the growth of mold when it’s so dark.”
For that reason, the Meridian district may not want to add on to the existing high school and seek higher ground for a new building, she said. Ms Ulrich serves as the regional superintendent for five school districts in some of Illinois’s poorest counties, including Pulaski, where Meridian is located. She said the decision on what to do would be left up to the Meridian school district, but since the area is so poor, a sizable chunk of the construction costs could qualify for funds from a capital improvement fund.