Meridian Elementary School condemned due to mold


Reporter - Kendall Downing
Web Editor - Ryan Burkett

MOUNDS, Ill. - We are getting a first look at images from inside Meridian Elementary School in Mounds, Illinois. On Friday, Regional Superintendent of Schools Janet Ulrich officially condemned the building because of toxic black mold.

Sparks flew from Meridian Elementary on Friday morning as a welder fastened doors shut for good. Chains hold the front doors together, and now there's a new sign. The school is condemned.

"It's emotional for everybody, teachers, staff, students, even the alumni," said Brent Boren, principal.

Boren discovered the mold back in May. Now the school is empty. He cut off the electricity on Friday morning.

"It's something that we had to do," said Boren.

Tennis balls from classroom chairs litter the playground. The supplies that could be removed are sitting in storage units.

Administrators said the building lies in a basis where moisture accumulated over time. There was no vapor barrier included in the building, but the regional superintendent said it wasn't required when the building was constructed.

"The taxpayers will be pushed to the extreme," said Janet Ulrich, Regional Superintendent of Schools.

Ulrich estimates a new building on the site could cost at least $12 million. An addition to the high school is half that.

The state of Illinois could step in and pay a majority of the cost for the addition, but taxpayers would be left to fund more than $1.6 million.

Ulrich said those are decisions the school board will have to make.

The district would like to get portable buildings in the short-term, but cost could stand in the way. Both elementary and high school students currently attend class in a split-shift format in the high school building.

There's no timetable for demolition of the now-condemned school.

Earlier story:

MOUNDS, Ill. - Meridian Elementary School in Mounds, Illinois is closed due to mold inside the school.

Crews are welding the doors shut at the school.

Administrators tell Local 6's Kendall Downing that there is a silver lining to having the building condemned. They say it means the district can move forward with trying to either build another school or bring in portable classrooms.

The principal discovered the toxic black mold in May. The State of Illinois later confirmed it. The Regional Superintendent got a second architect and engineer to come in and they recommended the building be condemned. The state signed off on that Thursday and issued an official letter.

All students are currently using the high school building in a split shift format. There is no timelime for that to change or for demolition of the current building. It is estimated that replacing the structure and eliminating the mold could cost about $12 million, while an additional wing at the high school could cost about $6 million.