2015-02-13 / Community

South Portland School Deptartment central office floods

By Duke Harrington
Staff Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND — During the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, while football fans across South Portland were rejoicing, things were not going so well at the school department’s central office on Wescott Street. According to Superintendent Suzanne Godin, a pair of steam valves let go at that time, destroying one entire office and part of another, while spreading water across the entire suite of rooms, pooling inside the walls.

The end result is that the central office needs to be vacated for six to eight weeks while walls are cut above the waterline and replaced with new insulation and wall board. All 14 employees currently housed at the central office will relocate to the high school over February vacation. Tentative plans call for the receptionist to be on the main floor, while Godin will take over Room 221. The finance department will occupy two rooms on the third floor, and special education services will be disbursed throughout the building. Godin said a letter would go out to the community at the end of this week advising of the temporary change, with information on how to contact central office staffers.

A cost estimate for the damage was not available by the Sentry’s deadline this week. However, Godin advised school directors at their Feb. 9 meeting, “This is all covered under insurance.” But, under questioning from school board member Sara Goldberg, Godin acknowledged that one of the two valves in question has broken before.

“This could have been prevented if the valves had been replaced appropriately,” she said.

Even so, while damage was sustained to furniture, computer equipment and paperwork, “nothing irreplaceable” was lost, apart from original copies of some student records. However, errant students hoping the flood might have expunged their records are out of luck.

“We found that wet paper photocopies pretty well,” Godin said.

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