August 9 update

Rose Hamilton staff will conduct a transportation and childcare registration event from 5-6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 10, at Centerville-Abington Elementary, 200 W. South St., Centerville.

Participants should park in the south parking lot, between the football field and the elementary school, and use the south doors. Families can pick up bus lanyards for returning students, check on transportation arrangements for incoming students, have bussing questions answered and sign up for childcare.

Plans for a back-to-school night are still being finalized.

August 8 evening update

Although young kids often enjoy playing in water and mud, its unexpected arrival indoors is posing a safety issue at Rose Hamilton Elementary School in Centerville. 

Administrators announced Tuesday, Aug. 8, that the school for preschoolers through second graders will open its doors a few days late. 

A water main break under the school at around 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 6, caused extensive damage, and cleanup is still underway.  

Superintendent Mike McCoy said a teacher working inside the building noticed the water and called Principal Sam Pritchard, who alerted district officials. Centerville Fire/Rescue members were on site conducting training and the teacher notified them as well.    

Water and mud entered hallways and classrooms before the line could be shut off. McCoy said the source of the leak was a hole about the size of a softball in a 4-inch pipe. 

Upon arrival, McCoy said water was running out the doors and over his shoes. He described it about 4 inches deep. 

He noted that Rose Hamilton has previously had leaks caused by frozen pipes, but the damage was “nothing like this.”

The exterior sign at Rose Hamilton Elementary School in Centerville announcing the start of school will be amended to reflect an update in the schedule. Photo by Millicent Martin Emery

Thus, McCoy notified families Tuesday afternoon that the building at 1281 S. Round Barn Road will be closed for the remainder of the week. 

Instruction at Rose Hamilton will start Monday, Aug. 14, at the earliest. The anticipated back-to-school night for families to meet teachers and sign up for childcare and other services hasn’t been rescheduled while repairs are continuing. 

McCoy said he’s holding his breath that another leak isn’t discovered.  

“I have been working with the staff and administration to develop a plan of action, but many of the issues we have can turn into bigger issues at any time,” McCoy told families. “We will continue to monitor this throughout the week.”

No other Centerville-Abington Community Schools buildings are affected, and their instruction begins Wednesday, Aug. 9, as planned.

Despite a rough start to the school year, McCoy said he’s pleased that all children will be able to return to Rose Hamilton rather than having to scatter some of them among other CACS buildings. 

Administrators considered several different contingency options but felt a delayed start was the best plan of action for students. 

If the high school had been damaged, virtual classes might have been implemented, but McCoy said it’s difficult to get young children to focus on online instruction.  

“We want to get back in the building and do it the right way,” McCoy said. 

On Tuesday morning, school administrators met with a structural engineer and insurance adjuster, who confirmed that damage was isolated to one hallway and one classroom. The classroom near the burst pipe is being moved to another available room. 

Water was turned back on Tuesday afternoon, and workers are expected to repair the hallway by Wednesday evening. 

However, McCoy said the quantity of mud and water throughout the building means additional time is needed to finish cleaning the impacted areas, allow them to dry and prepare for students. 

A flood is damaging, but a flood caused by a water main spreads mud, McCoy said, describing the muddy spots as slippery like ice. 

The water and mud spread through most of the building, but it didn’t reach a newer addition with a few kindergarten rooms that was built a little higher.  

McCoy also is grateful that electricity could be turned back on quickly enough that chilled foods could be saved.  

McCoy and Pritchard will continue to communicate with parents about any changes in plans.

Original August 8 story

Families affiliated with Rose Hamilton Elementary School in Centerville are awaiting news about any impact that a water main break will have on their first days of school.

A water main break occurred at around 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 6. under the school, 1281 S. Round Barn Road.

Centerville Fire/Rescue was already conducting training on that site when the main broke, so its volunteers were able to respond quickly.

Unfortunately, water was able to enter the hallways and classrooms before the water line was shut off, said Assistant Superintendent Sean Stevenson.

Stevenson said a couple of rooms have experienced internal structural damage, and they are being assessed by a structural engineer.

On Monday afternoon, Stevenson said a contractor is on site cleaning the halls and rooms affected by the water, and another contractor is fixing the water line.

Centerville-Abington Community Schools administrators are still working on plans for the start of the school year at Rose Hamilton.

Classes are still scheduled to begin Wednesday.

However, because of the damage, Monday’s Back to School Night offering families a chance to meet their teacher, tour the building, sign up for childcare and discuss transportation was canceled.  

The building serves about 425 students in preschool, kindergarten and first and second grades.

Superintendent Mike McCoy and Principal Sam Pritchard will continue to communicate with parents about any changes in plans.

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A version of this article appeared in the August 16 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.