By James Beaty
The McAlester Public Schools Board of Education held an emergency meeting Friday morning related to the damaged Parker Intermediate Center school building — and where the fifth- and sixth-grade students from Parker will attend school in the coming weeks.
Beginning Monday morning, fifth-grade students will attend classes at the former St. John’s Catholic School, on the grounds of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church at 300 E. Washington Ave.
For now, sixth-grade students who normally have classes at Parker will continue to attend class at the McAlester Campus of Eastern Oklahoma State College, at 1802 E. College Ave.
Three members of the five-member board were able to attend the emergency meeting held at the MPS Central Office at 200 E. Adams Ave. on Friday.
MPS Board President Dr. Janet Wansick, along with school board members Angie Nelson and Mike Sossamon, voted unanimously to approve agreements for the students to use the St. John’s and EOSC facilities.
They also passed an emergency resolution allowing MPS Superintendent Marsha Gore to take any necessary action “to repair and/or replace Parker Intermediate Center buildings, property and equipment that have sustained damage and/or destruction caused by a flood on Aug. 13.”
Parker, at 1310 N. Sixth St., was damaged Tuesday when teachers heard a cracking sound and water from broken pipes began pouring through the downstairs part of the building. Several windows popped out as well, leading to an evacuation of the facility — the day before classes were set to start at the school.
Gore said Friday it’s unknown how long Parker students will have to continue taking classes at other sites while the damage at Parker is surveyed and estimates come in on costs for repairs. More inspections of the building were set for Friday.
Also on Friday, MPS employees moved equipment out of the Parker building. Teachers were also allowed to enter the building in small groups to retrieve items from their classrooms.
Meanwhile, Gore said food will be brought in to the fifth-grade students who will attend classes at St. John’s. The site also has a cafeteria and a gymnasium, Gore noted, although it’s uncertain if the school will be able to use the cafeteria for cooking.
Gore said the company that provides Internet service to MPS should be able to provide wireless service at St. John’s.
Some students may attend school in the central office building on Adams Avenue, according to Gore.
While the sixth-grade students will start their day at EOSC’s McAlester campus, they won’t be spending all of their mornings there.
“A bus will pick up all of the students at 9:45,” Gore said.
“They will be bused to the Wanda Bass Fine Arts Center,” she said, referring to a building at McAlester High School. Most of the students are in band, but those who aren’t will attend other classes, she said.
Sixth-grade students will go ahead and have lunch at the cafeteria at the high school, she said.
Meanwhile, Gore said those inspecting the Parker building have told her the upstairs was not damaged. Gore believes the building can be repaired — but the experts were uncertain as to how soon repairs could begin, how long repairs will take and when students could return to Parker.
Gore indicated that school officials will have a plan to do whatever’s required.
“If we’re in by December, it will be great,” Gore said.
“If it takes until May, that will be fine.”
Contact James Beaty at email@example.com.