McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

August 28, 2013

Pipes not ground caused Parker issue

By James Beaty
Senior Editor

McALESTER — Recent problems at McAlester Public School’s Parker Intermediate Center were caused by pipes that broke — not from the earth collapsing.

That’s the information from McAlester Public Schools Superintendent Marsha Gore, who conferred with structural and mechanical engineers on Friday regarding the condition of the building housing the intermediate school.

Teachers, support personnel and other MPS employees had evacuated the building on Aug. 13 after water gushed down hallways and entered several classrooms on the first floor. The school flooded the day before the first back-to-school day of the fall semester at Parker, 1310 N. Sixth St., where approximately 400 fifth and sixth grade students normally attend public school classes. No injuries were reported.

Along with the flooded hallways and classrooms, other problems included windows that popped out and a buckled floor in parts of the school’s first-floor area.

While it had been obvious the water came from a broken water line, experts were tasked with determining what caused the line to break. Some had wondered if the earth beneath the school had collapsed, causing the rupture in the water line.

Gore said that question has been answered. She said the experts told her the ground did not collapse; rather, the  water line beneath the school flooring had failed.

“The earth didn’t move,” Gore said. “It’s just the old cast-iron water line from 1971 burst.”

Gore said an independent mechanical engineer and an independent structural engineer both examined the building.

While MPS will be able to use Parker Intermediate Center again, it’s still not certain exactly when that will occur or who will pay for the repairs.

“We’re waiting to see if we have to pay for it or the insurance will,” Gore said. Regardless of the source of the funding, she said the school will be repaired.

Other questions remain. Will the new water line follow the path of the old one or will it be rerouted? That’s yet to be determined.

While a projected completion date for the repairs has yet  to be determined, Gore said she’s hopeful the repairs will be completed and students will be attending classes at Parker again before the completion oft he fall semester in December.

Since school started, fifth grade students from Parker have been attending classes at the former St. John’s Catholic School at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church at 300 E. Washington Ave. Sixth grade students begin their classes on the McAlester Campus of Eastern Oklahoma State College and also attend some classes at McAlester High School.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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