Medomak Middle School has been vacant since Feb. 28 due to a malfunction with the facility’s water system.
Late in the week of Feb. 20, electrical components that control the school’s water system, including domestic water and fire suppression systems, failed. The building, located at 318 Manktown Road, cannot be occupied if safety measures are malfunctioning, thus MMS students have been participating in classes remotely since Feb. 28.
In a March 10 letter to the MMS community, Principal Kate Race said that the system was installed in 2008 and the control panel’s controller is no longer sold or serviced in the United States.
“We are in constant contact and currently working with electrical, plumbing, fire suppression, and controller contractors to replace the panel as quickly as possible,” Race said.
On March 14, Race said she does not believe that remote learning is a sustainable long-term option for all students, but she does not believe the situation will impact the school-year calendar yet.
The school’s current student population totals about 296, meaning that there are too many logistical variables involved with holding class in a space like the Medomak Valley High School gym.
Race said she will be sending a survey out to the MMS community to help determine which students can sustainably manage remote class work and how many students cannot learn effectively outside of an in-person learning environment to assist the school administration in its planning during the time in which the school building is not usable.
RSU 40 Facilities Director Brian Race said that he does not currently have a timeline for the repair of the school’s water system.
He said the school ordered the new control panel and were awaiting word from the vendor regarding how long it may take to assemble it.
The director said there was not necessarily any cause for the failure of the system, but rather that it and its components had simply grown old.
“I’m thinking it was its time to go. You figure it was installed in 2007, so at this point it’s 15 years old and, for lack of a better term, it’s a computer,” he said.
Brian Race estimated that, once he and the rest of the facilities team have the control panel on-site, it might only take a couple of days to get it installed, tested, and inspected.
According to the principal, Misty Darton from the Gibbs Library in Washington is offering internet to Washington middle school students so that they can attend remote classes.
RSU 40 includes the towns of Union, Waldoboro, Warren, Friendship, and Washington.
Parents and guardians from any RSU 40 town whose students need access to the internet for remote learning can contact Kate Race at firstname.lastname@example.org.