December 7, 2012

Insurance to cover Winslow Elementary school damage from broken water pipe

School district on the hook for $1,000 deductible following $126,000 in damage from October water pipe break, fire

By Ben McCanna
Staff Writer

WINSLOW -- A broken pipe at Winslow Elementary School caused about $126,000 in damage, but the school district is only responsible for a $1,000 insurance deductible.

Itemized estimated costs for damage caused by broken pipe at Winslow Elementary School

Building supplies $2,500 

Cleaning services $17,000 

Electrical work $550 

Elevator $9,000 

Flooring $27,000 

Gymnasium floor $25,000 

Gypsum wallboards $36,000

Movers $9,000 

Plumbing $300 

Total $126,000

The cost estimate, which was compiled this week by district maintenance director Shelley Phillips, combines estimates from the school's insurance company, invoices and quotes from contractors.

The damage occurred in late October when a hot water pipe in the lobby ceiling broke, flooding 10 rooms, four bathrooms, the library and gymnasium. Later in the day, the flooding also sparked a small fire, which was quickly doused.

The water caused about $27,000 damage to carpets, $25,000 damage to the gymnasium floor, $36,000 damage to gypsum wallboard and more. Superintendent Eric Haley said repairs are ongoing, and the completion date is unknown.

"We don't have a good handle on that yet. We're going to try to do flooring in December, that's the first available slot for the flooring company," he said.

The school will schedule repairs to coincide with school vacations so classes aren't disrupted, he said.

"We can operate school as it is right now," he said. "If we have to wait until summertime to do some of these repairs, that's OK."

One damaged area that directly affects students is the gymnasium. About one-quarter of the gym floor was damaged and has been removed. Students can still use the gym for physical education class, but basketball teams can not use the full court, he said. Teams that usually use the gym for basketball are using the ones at the junior high and high school when available.

Principal Kyle Price said work will begin on the gym floor next week and could reopen in early January. Likewise, the library carpet will likely be replaced during Christmas break and ready for students when they return.

About $9,000 will go toward a moving company that will remove books from the library when its carpet is replaced.

Haley said there are no signs of mold in the school, but officials are monitoring the situation closely.

The broken pipe was discovered in a hallway ceiling about 5 a.m. Oct. 29, Price said. Water was standing about two inches deep in the main hallway and an elevator shaft was completely flooded. Classes were canceled for the day while a clean-up crew set up fans to dry damp carpets and assess the damage.

Then, at 12:30 p.m., a small fire broke out in the school's elevator shaft when a sump pump overheated while clearing the water.

The pipe broke because of a "50-cent plug that rotted out and let go," Haley said at the time. Water poured from the pipe and spread throughout three wings in the building.

Haley said the school district -- which comprises Vassalboro, Waterville and Winslow -- experienced a similar incident in the late 1980s when a water fountain that was used for a school dance collapsed in the Waterville Senior High School gymnasium during overnight hours.

Ben McCanna -- 861-9239

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