Pipes burst: Vacation continues at Charlotte school

Charlotte Central School families got a surprising message from the school’s automated update system on Tuesday night: burst pipes in the building would delay students’ return to the classroom for at least another day after a lengthy winter break.

Co-principal Stephanie Sumner, who spent much of Tuesday evening at the school with responders from Charlotte Fire and Rescue, said the incident occurred in the west end of the school building.

She wrote in an email that the break was in the downstairs hallway between the multi-purpose room and the gym. “No major impact on either of those areas or on the band room, thank goodness!” she said. “The hallway was quite a mess and we lost several ceiling tiles, but the damage is actually much less than we anticipated at first.”

The school still has water and heat in the main section of the building, though the library and cafeteria are unheated and unusable until at least Thursday, due to a separate incident with the heating in the west end of the school that custodial staff discovered Monday night.

On Tuesday, Sumner said that facilities director Chris Giard and his crew were cleaning up and they would work with Kurt Proulx, district maintenance director, to check out all of the systems.

“We actually have done quite a bit of work on the boilers recently so that they would be operating at full capacity for the winter,” Sumner said.

Recreational basketball players in the gym called 911 Tuesday evening with an alert that water was pouring down from the ceiling in the hallway between the multi-purpose room and the gym. Charlotte Fire and Rescue responded around 7:30 p.m. Assistant Fire Chief Rob Mullin said eight responders with fire trucks and an ambulance responded.

He said the fire department recommended that the school remain closed on Wednesday. Though the open ceilings and exposed wiring don’t increase risk of fire, they do increase the risk of fire spreading should there be one. “We pulled out a lot of ceiling tiles to find and isolate the leak, and that’s not good for the students, and not fire safe,” he said.

Fire crews isolated the leak, trying at first to do what they could to stop the water without cutting power, since the cold weather could cause other issues in the building if the heat was not functioning. Though the fire department located the leak successfully, they did end up cutting off the power to the west end of the building because water was still coming in.

A full assessment of the damage and repair plans were expected to be completed Wednesday morning. Sumner said she expected school to reopen today.

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