DARIEN – Center Cass School District 66 Superintendent Tim Arnold was trying to stay positive as he recounted the events that accompanied the first week of school at Ide Elementary School.
“With our students beginning the 2018-19 school year last week, our staff was tested to see how well we adapted to challenges. I am pleased to report that they consistently exceeded expectations in order to ensure our students had a positive start to the new year,” Arnold said in a newsletter about the construction progress at the Darien school.
The first phase of construction at the school, 2000 Manning Road, proceeded without a hitch throughout the summer, Arnold said in an interview. Work included an addition on the north side of the school, as well as a new bus loop and parking lot on the northwest corner of the property.
But heavy rains the night of Aug. 20 resulted in a significant amount of mud near the entance of the school as teachers and staff prepared for an open house Aug. 21.
“We’ve been tested,” Arnold said.
The school’s custodians managed get the school grounds ready for the open house, including laying straw and a silt fence to prevent a repeat of the situation, he said.
“With one challenge behind us, Team Ide began an exciting year. Little did they know that 24 hours later they would have an even bigger challenge,” Arnold said in the newsletter.
Hours before the second day of school, an overhead pipe fitting burst and water did significant damage to the school, including damaging carpet and wallboard.
“It was a big space that was impacted,” Arnold said in the interview. "It spread. It kept going."
Students were routed around the damaged area when they arrived at school Aug. 23. The cleanup and drying process began and continued through the following day.
Professional cleaning crews arrived after school Aug. 24 and spent the weekend disinfecting the building and removing any water-damaged baseboard and wallboard. Damaged carpet was replaced.
Arnold found one silver lining associated with the water-related damage.
“On the bright side, all costs associated with the cleanup and repair will be paid by the plumbing company who installed the new water lines,” he said in the newsletter. “District 66 will incur no expenses as a result of this situation."
Phase 2 of the Ide School building project, which will feature construction of a new library, maker space, multi-purpose room and learning commons, will occur throughout the school year. The final phase of the work includes interior renovations, and it will take place next summer, Arnold said in the interview.