Shawnee middle, high school classes canceled because of broken water pipe

Shawnee Middle and High School experienced a water issue Tuesday, causing the district to cancel classes.

At 6:45 a.m. Tuesday, the maintenance team was made aware of a broken pipe in the middle/high school water treatment building, Superintendent Brian Kuhn said in a post on the district’s Facebook page. The pipe work could not be completed before noon, which left the building without water.

“One of the main reasons for canceling classes and sending students home was the uncertainty associated with our ability to source the needed parts,” Kuhn told the News-Sun.

Anytime there is a mechanical or equipment problem, Kuhn said one of the challenges is being able to source the part associated with the repair. However, he found out early Tuesday morning that the plumber was able to source the part and pick it up the same day.

“The problem (Tuesday) is a flange fail, which caused the leak, which impacted water pressure, so that is the part that is being sourced and obtained,” he said.

Classes for the middle and high school were canceled, but the elementary school remained in session.

Students who arrived at the middle/high school were dismissed Tuesday morning on a staggered schedule to return home.

Kuhn said crews were on site Tuesday to repair the pipe, and they expect all systems to be operational by Wednesday. However, Wednesday is a scheduled in-service day for the district, in which students do not attend school; staff will be in the buildings for professional development. Students should plan to arrive at their normal time on Thursday.

“Because the water pressure dropped below the required level in the building, we will be under a boil advisory the next couple of days. The restrooms are usable, the sinks are usable for handwashing, but we are bagging up water fountains and setting up water coolers for drinking water,” Kuhn said.

A decision regarding Tuesday night’s basketball game will be made in the afternoon.

This is the second water issue at the district since the middle and high school’s new water treatment system came online at the beginning of last year; one was related to weather.

When it was first brought online in January 2023, there were a couple hiccups, Kuhn said. Then on the first day of school in fall 2023, there was a huge storm that “rolled through” that caused the computer based component to fail, which caused an issue on the first day.

“It had been working fine for us once fully online, and the hiccups were dealt with, other than the first day of school this year due to the storm (that) morning,” he said. “As with (anything), things need repaired in a home, office building and for a school, but this impacted a major system of the school, and it was in the best interest of the students and staff to send students home.”

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