Record amounts of rainfall over a two-day span earlier this month resulted in flooding at Proviso East High school, forcing educators to close the building for more than a week. In the meantime, crews have been working to reverse the damage caused by more than 10 feet of standing water found in a basement boiler room.
“It was quite a mess,” Principal Milton Patch said.
According to Patch, the flooding was limited to that one room and no classroom or other learning space was affected. However, a 500-gallon tank containing diesel fuel in the boiler room was overturned by the rising waters, further contaminating everything touched by the flood waters. Administrators and other staff were able to return to the Maywood public high school Sept. 17, according to a district statement, but students were not scheduled to return until today.
A Sept. 22 school board meeting was also relocated from the Maywood campus to the Proviso Math and Science Academy in Forest Park.
District 209 includes a third high school, Proviso West, located in Hillside. The deluge received Sept. 13 and 14 shuttered both the academy and Proviso West campuses, but only until Wednesday, Sept. 17.
“The biggest thing is to get the boiler room repaired,” District 209 spokesperson TaQuoya Kennedy said. “Once that is done, I think the expectation is to [resume classes] while the cleanup is still in progress.”
It was originally hoped that classes would resume on Monday, Sept. 22. If students are not able to return to the school Wednesday as anticipated, they may have to make up for the lost instructional time at the end of the school year. Administrators met several times in the last week to discuss the progress of the cleanup and how best to proceed.
“We have examined every possible option to get our students back into school as soon as possible,” Superintendent Nettie Collins-Hart said. “If Proviso East isn’t ready to open by Wednesday we will continue education by having classes for Proviso East students in our other schools.”
Before classes can resume at the Maywood campus, municipal inspectors must sign-off on the decontamination effort.
The total cost of the flood damage to the district has not yet been determined, according to a district spokesperson, however, it is believed that the schools are responsible for paying only a $1,000 insurance deductible.