Sewer line creates ‘inconvenience’ for school

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

The collapse of a sewer line at a Clovis junior high school has stirred up inconvenience, but little else, according to school officials.

Officials discovered a main sewer line at Gattis Junior High School had collapsed about a week ago when cafeteria sinks at the school clogged, according to Clovis Schools Operations Director Gene Bieker.

Sinks in the cafeteria kitchen are controlled by the line, which runs underneath the Gattis gymnasium, according to Bieker.

Currently, the line is open and flowing, but repairs are imperative, Bieker said.

“Right now, it’s not a safety hazard, but it can become one if it (the line) totally collapses.

“It would shut down the kitchen area. Then, we’d have no cafeteria,” Bieker said.

Gattis Principal Craig Terry said the line has been unstable for about two years.

“It’s been a problem on and off,” Terry said. “But it’s more of an inconvenience than anything else.”

On some days, drainage problems prevented kitchen staff from doing the dishes at Gattis. So, students used disposable food trays, Terry said. One day, the backed-up line caused a stench to waft through the school, but chemicals were used to squelch the smell, the principal said.

About two weeks ago, drainage problems in the kitchen worsened and the collapse was discovered soon after, Terry said.

According to school officials, problems with the sewer line can be linked to its age.

Terry estimates the line is about 50 years old, the same age as Gattis itself.

School officials said there is no reason to believe other lines at Gattis are in need of repair.

Options for the repair of the collapsed line will be discussed at an emergency Board of Education meeting at 5:30 p.m. today in the Clovis schools administration building, 1009 Main St.

Bieker said he will recommend the board approve an immediate, but temporary repair of the line.

For a short-term fix, a portion of the gymnasium floor would need to be uprooted, he said. Repairs would probably last a week and have minimal to no effect on instruction at Gattis, Bieker said. Those repairs would cost about $16,000, he said.
Permanently repairing the line will cost about $60,000, but such extensive work should be undertaken over the summer of 2007, Bieker said.

Bieker said Clovis Schools will apply for emergency state funding to repair the line, if the board so approves.