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Classes cancelled at BES due to water pump failure


January 28, 2010
BARNSTEAD — Students at Barnstead Elementary School were given an unexpected day off Thursday after the school's domestic water pump, which supplies water to the kitchen and bathrooms, shorted out the previous afternoon.

Principal Tim Rice explained in an e-mail to The Baysider Thursday morning that recent heavy rains had somehow infiltrated an underground conduit that carries power from the transformer to the back of the building, where the Water Room is located.

The moisture, he said, caused a short in the electrical system for the domestic water pump at around midday Wednesday. As a result, kitchen staff began running out of water toward the end of lunch, and students were unable to run water from sinks or flush toilets.

"We cannot have school in session without water because of the obvious sanitary issues it presents, so we finished the school day and cancelled after school activities," Rice explained, adding that office staff sent a message out to all teachers, staff members, and parents through the school's AlertNow system notifying them of the situation.

After Gilford Well assessed the system and found that there was a problem with the power supply, Rice and Facility Manager Mike Hatch called in an electrician, who located the problem but was unable to find the materials needed to fix it until Thursday morning.

Based on the electrician's belief that he would not be able to repair the damaged conduit until Thursday afternoon, Rice and Superintendent William Compton made a mutual decision to cancel all classes Thursday (which Rice said was scheduled as a half-day, with dismissal at 12:15 p.m. and parent-teacher conferences from 12:30 to 6 p.m.).

According to Rice, the school experienced a similar problem during spring floods two years ago, when the lines that supply power to the water pumps controlling the sprinkler system went down.

"There still may be a problem with some of the pumps and switches controlling them, but until we restore power we cannot be sure," he wrote Thursday. "We'll know one way or another later today."

Rice had high praise for Hatch, who he said stayed to work on the problem long after he left the building at 6 p.m. Wednesday night.

He also promised to keep The Baysider abreast of the situation as the day wore on.

Brendan Berube can be reached at 569-3126 or bberube@salmonpress.com

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