For the second time in a week, Santa Fe Elementary School in the Colony Ridge communities south of Plum Grove is closed due to a concern about natural gas leaks.
According to Cleveland ISD Superintendent Stephen McCanless, the school principal arrived Friday for school and detected the smell of gas in the building. Firefighters were called and children were sent home for the day.
“Fortunately, the car riders were just arriving for school, so we were able to divert them back home with their parents. We also had the school buses diverted to deliver the children home,” McCanless said.
A complete check of the building was performed, but no gas leaks were found. Instead, what was found is a leak on the Unigas Centric lines in an off-campus location behind the school.
“The gas company employees are here now. The leak is on their pipe outside. As a precaution, however, I have shut down that campus for the remainder of the day. We are putting safety first for our students and staff,” McCanless said.
The superintendent expressed frustration over the situation, which he worries will erode trust between the school district and parents.
“I want to assure our parents that we are doing everything we can to fix this situation. On Wednesday night, after the first leaks were reported, everything was repaired and the system was certified as 100 percent safe,” he said. “We have had people working around the clock on this, and will have people working Saturday and Sunday if that is what it takes. We are not taking this situation lightly.”
McCanless suspects that the leaks inside the school on Wednesday may have been caused by an overpressured gas system.
“They are checking regulators on their system to see if the system has been overpressurized, which could have resulted in our leaks in the school,” he said. “The gas company and the school district are working together to resolve this problem.”
Santa Fe Middle School, which is located adjacent to Santa Fe Elementary School, appears to have been unaffected by the gas line issues.
“The middle school was checked and certified 100 percent safe. They will now be retesting and recertifying Santa Fe Elementary School,” McCanless said. “We are not only checking these two schools; we are checking all of our schools to make sure the gas line systems are operating properly.”
Classes are expected to resume at Santa Fe Elementary School on Monday morning. Be sure to follow Cleveland ISD on Facebook for the latest information.