The Ardmore City Schools Board of Education approved delaying the start of school for both Will Rogers Elementary and Lincoln Elementary until Aug. 22 due to various construction complications during a special board meeting Thursday
The delay of Will Rogers Elementary had already been announced by ACS superintendent Sonny Bates last week, though the board’s approval made the move official. School officials said there was a possibility of delaying school at Lincoln Elementary on Wednesday, after various issues arose with the water lines near the school. The board approved the delay at Lincoln during the meeting, as recommended by Bates.
Last week, the state fire marshal informed the school exactly what needed to be done at Will Rogers Elementary, according to Bates. Ardmore City Schools director of operations Chris Kennedy gave a report to the board regarding the details at Will Rogers, explaining that ceiling tiles installation will begin today, the fire alarm system should be available for testing on Monday and that the sprinkler system will be ready for another test on Wednesday or Thursday. Kennedy also said the fire marshal has said he will work with the school if any complications come up and school will be able to start on Aug. 22. Installation of the firewalls will begin this coming week, according to Kennedy.
Kennedy said that any other potential complications have been at the top of the list of issues that need to be addressed before the 22nd.
“That’s exactly what I went through. I checked to see if there was anything else that could hold us up,” Kennedy said of any more potential issues.
Kennedy said that water pressure was low on the new side of the building, an issue that is currently being addressed. He said the school wants to ensure the problem is resolved before going forward with the parking lot installation. A test was conducted on Thursday on the waterline, with the results of that tests expected sometime today. Kennedy said the tests are to prevent future problems that could potentially lead to the water being shut off in the future to address the issues.
“No water, no school,” Bates said of the issue. Bates and Kennedy both stressed the importance of addressing the issues before the start of school.
Water line problems were the source of issues surrounding Lincoln Elementary, as well.
“A week to ten days ago, if you were to pass Lincoln (Elementary) everyday you would see something different,” Bates said of the construction. “Here a week ago, we found a soft spot and that soft spot became saturated.”
The soft spot was discovered on the south side of Lincoln Elementary, leading to crews investigating the cause of the issue. Kennedy said a cement truck began sinking near the soft spot, signaling the severity of the issue. He said because the spot is located where the parking lot will be, the importance of solving the problem was increased. Tests were conducted on lines that lay below the ground near the facade of the school and then left to dry to see if any problems could be detected. When no issues immediately made themselves known, Kennedy said a move needed to be made.
“Something had to be done,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy said the issue was determined to be groundwater that leaks from the street. He said that water will follow the path of least resistance in an area, which happens to be the area near the Lincoln Elementary building. Crews ran a test on Wednesday by running water down Stanley Street to see where the water flowed, which confirmed the issue. The issue revolves around the compaction near the utility lines.
“Compaction is big,” Kennedy said of the issue. In order to combat the problem, Kennedy has called in Ardmore city engineer Tom Mansur, who has experience in dealing with compaction and utility line issues.
“He deals with things like this, deals with compaction and utility lines and he’s going to kind of take that project over and go in and fix that,” Kennedy said.
With rain predicted this weekend, Kennedy said the process could be delayed, though he set a worst case scenario as Thursday. With the city starting the curb project on Stanley Street soon, Kennedy said it is better that the problem was discovered at this stage, rather than in the future when the groundwater problem would’ve been a larger problem.
“We just don’t want any problems five or ten years down the road where things are washing out under our parking lot,” Kennedy said.  “We’ve made a mess, but today we’ve made progress.”
The board approved delaying school at Lincoln until Aug. 22 and approved the use of banked hours for both Will Rogers and Lincoln Elementary to make up for the three days that will be missed. By using the banked hours, the schools will still end the year with the rest of the district.
In addition, teachers from both schools will be contacting parents to let them know which teacher their student will have and where their classrooms will be. The meet and greet that was scheduled at Lincoln Elementary on Aug. 15 has been canceled, according to an email from ACS Administrative Assistant Marcy King.