County schools are preparing to ask the state for funds to repair the water lines beneath Capon Bridge Middle School’s kitchen — even though no cost estimate is yet available.

The school board met in special session Tuesday morning to unanimously approve sending a request for funding to the School Building Authority before Friday’s deadline. The SBA will decide at its early December meeting what projects around the state to fund.

The application will ask for complete SBA funding as the county works to find out how much repairs will cost and — just as importantly — who to hold responsible for the problems that they say have existed since the school was built in 2006.

“We did not budget for any of this,” Superintendent Jeff Pancione told the board.

CBMS lost full use of its kitchen with the July 16 discovery that a sewer line is severed.

The serving line, refrigerator, freezer, icemaker, ovens and warmers are all usable, but anything that drains into the sewer line — sinks, dishwasher, tilt skillet, steamers and some connected pots — is off limits until repairs are made.

On Tuesday, Finance Director Denise Hott said the kitchen might not be fully usable at all this school year.

“It will probably be summer,” she told the board, noting that if the SBA agrees to fund the project, then the bidding process will begin to the agency’s specifications.

Architects with the Charleston firm of Williamson Shriver, which designed the school, are developing a budget to repair the problems.

When the town of Capon Bridge reported “abnormal” sewage coming from the school, Maintenance Director Alfred Foster ran a dye test from several drains, but no dye was showing up in the grease trap.

When a camera was run down the 4-inch PVC line, it quickly hit 3 or 4 feet of gravel.

“We couldn’t figure out where the gravel was coming from,” Foster said. “Basically, the line was stopped up.”

Enough gravel was taken out to allow the 2-inch camera through. About 25 feet from the freezer it showed a severed line beneath 18 inches of concrete and 2 to 3 feet of gravel. 

Pancione told the board Tuesday that kitchen operations are smooth at the middle school.

“We’re trying to keep transporting food to a minimum,” he said. Some food is prepared at neighboring Capon Bridge Elementary.

About 190 of the middle school’s 288 students are being fed daily, Board Vice President Ed Morgan said, which are lower numbers than last year.

“We can accommodate the children,” board member Dee Dee Rinker noted.  “We can feed them all” even though some parents are opting to send lunch with their students. o

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