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Students Will Make-Up Missed Days Due to Well Problems

December 10, 2013

  12/11/13 Students at LaVille Jr.-Sr. High School got an extra couple of days off this is week due to more problems with the building’s well. This latest problem has resulted in students missing eight days this month.

Union-North United Schools Superintendent, Mitchell Mawhorter ,said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” All the students in the school system had missed six days of school when a motor in the well located at the Jr.-Sr. High School building malfunctioned. Repairs were made by Peerless Midwest; however, the motor failed a second time and had to be replaced.

According to Mawhorter, the latest problem has been traced back to electrical problems leading up to the well. The problem was discovered this past weekend when administrators noticed a drop in water pressure as they were setting up for a 7th grade tournament. Union-North Director of Operations, Zach Moore, immediately contacted Peerless Midwest to look into the issue. Peerless then traced the problem back to the electrical problems. By 6:00 A.M. on Tuesday, Martell Electric began working on changing out the electric components. Mawhorter said, “We are fixing anything we can think of.”

School administrators and representatives of the Union-North Teachers Association met and agreed to keep LaVille Elementary open this week. Mawhorter said, “They did not want to get any further behind in preparation of upcoming statewide testing.”

During the first repairs, classes were canceled in both schools.

Mawhorter said testing for semester finals at the Jr.-Sr. High School that are given prior to the holiday vacation will cover only the material that has been covered in class. Mawhorter said, “Most of the classes are year-long classes and any work not covered prior to the finals will be started at the beginning of the new semester.”

Indiana state law requires students to attend 180 per school year; however waivers can be obtained by appealing to the Board. Although the State Board of Education waived the six days for LaVille students, Mawhorter said they are only taking advantage of three of those days at both schools. Students at the Jr.-Sr. High school will also have to make-up the extra two days they are missing this week.

Mawhorter said the make-up days will not be tacked on to the end of the school year since there may still be snow days to make up.

LaVille Jr.-Sr. High students will now have to attend classes on January 6 and February 17 in addition to the dates of January 20, February 14, and April 12 that all students in both schools will need to attend.

Mawhorter indicated that they had called off school for both buildings during the first two repairs since the cost of transportation could have become a problem when they didn’t know if they would receive a state waiver or not. Mawhorter said, “It costs us $3,500 per day for transportation for all of our routes.” The school corporation using contract buses for 19 drivers and has two buses that are corporation owned.

The cost of the repairs could be covered through the school’s insurance. Mawhorter said they have already started a claim with the insurance carrier.

According to Mawhorter, all of the required water tests needed to reopen the school have passed. The tests are completed by Astbury Water Technology and the results are forwarded to IDEM (Indiana Department of Environmental Management). He said the Union-North School Board is getting quotes on possibly drilling a new well; however, nothing has been approved at this point and no work would begin even if approved until spring break.

Mawhorter said he understands the frustration over the continued problems and shared his appreciation for the patience of parents, staff and students.

Carol Anders Correspondent