Crews have begun repairs at La Entrada Middle School after the school flooded three times over a five-week span late last year, causing about $640,000 in damages. The repair work began in late January and should be completed at the end of March, Las Lomitas Elementary School District officials said.
The Menlo Park school flooded on Oct. 25 and twice on Nov. 29 because of separate water main breaks near the school's campus. In the October incident, water leaked into nine of the 21 classrooms in the school's new two-story building, which opened in August. Classes in those rooms, which are on the first floor, have been moved to portables on campus until repairs are finished, said Eric Holm, the school district's director of bond projects.
"You'd rather not have a flood anytime, but the whole school community has been very supportive in making adjustments to deal with it," he said. "It's an unfortunate thing that occurred and we reacted the best we could."
Insurance is covering the repair costs, said Superintendent Lisa Cesario. Workers are removing walls, insulation, carpets and door frames, Holm said. A water specialist will then test for mold. If everything is clear of mold, these materials will be replaced and the classrooms can be reopened, he said.
La Entrada hadn't flooded before last year's incidents, but an aging pipe system is probably the main culprit, Cesario said. The district has since worked with the city to install sandbags around the back of the campus, which borders a residential area, along with a flood gate to divert water away from classrooms, Holm said.
The city plans to replace the water main at Monte Rosa Drive by February 2020, according to Menlo Park Public Works Director Justin Murphy. The Menlo Park City Council approved a water system master plan that outlines $90 million in planned capital improvements. The water main replacement should improve the reliability of the system near La Entrada, Murphy said.
A water main break at 720 Monte Rosa Drive caused the flooding in October. The incident impacted 17 classrooms at the school, which has about 800 students enrolled. One classroom on the first floor of the new building was not affected by the flooding, and students are still attending classes there and those held in second-story rooms. Water leaked into four classrooms during the November incidents.