WALES — The upcoming vote on whether to close Wales Central School got new twists over the past week as a series of burst water pipes has caused extensive damage and disruptions at the elementary school.

On Tuesday, Jan, 25, a pipe burst at the school, Superintendent James D. Hodgkin said. The mess was cleared up and damage was repaired. But less than a week later, the problems continued.

On Sunday, a group including Fire Chief Tony Siderio was in the school gymnasium playing basketball when a second pipe burst.

“They turned the water off and actually prevented a lot of damage,” Hodgkin said.

Even so, ceiling tiles were soaked through, as was a carpet. Water made it into the library where more damage was sustained.

The Sunday pipe burst forced school officials to cancel classes on Monday. Then there was snow to contend with for a couple of days and, on Friday, more problems with pipes.

“Another pipe burst and it was just spewing water everywhere,” Hodgkin said. “It happened after the kids had left.”

Three or four rooms at the school were affected by the Friday gusher, Hodgkin said. Custodians were called in from other schools to help clean up the mess. As they did so, they found a variety of problems within the school, including issues with insulation that hadn’t been properly installed.

Hodgkin said he would not know until Monday exactly how much damage the erupting pipes have caused.

The pipes are apparently bursting after freezing and then thawing.

“We’ve had frozen pipes in all of our schools, but at the Central School, they’re actually bursting,” Hodgkin said.

Some parents have complained that frozen pipes are causing additional problems at the school. One parent said in a letter to the Sun Journal that at one point, there was only one fully functional bathroom and that heat wasn’t getting through to some classrooms.

On Tuesday, voters will be asked whether they favor allowing the Board of Directors of Regional School Unit 4 to close Central School, attended by about 60 children between kindergarten and third grade.

The cost of keeping the school open for 2011-12 has been estimated at slightly more than $208,000.

With the vote coming up on Tuesday, Hodgkin said some folks have gone so far as to imply the pipe problems were timed to affect the vote.

A ridiculous idea, he said, although, “it is ironic.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.