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Last week’s cold snap, where temperatures approached single digits, did more than let students out of school two days due to icy roads — it also caused an electrical problem at Franklin County High School that led to a four-day extended break.
Dr. Rebecca Sharber, Franklin County Schools’ director, told the Franklin County School Board on Monday that a sprinkler head in an electrical utility building had become frozen due to cold temperatures. She added that a rupture had occurred and an electrical panel had become soaked with water, causing the power outage.
Board member Chris Guess said the damage initially appeared to include a transformer that had been estimated to cost about $30,000.
However, Jim Hargrove, school system electrician, said Wednesday the transformer was not damaged, but a major component was — an electronically controlled circuit breaker. He explained that it had to be replaced.
“It was just a very expensive breaker,” he said, adding that the repair project’s total cost was not immediately available.
School had been out Friday, Jan. 10 and then again Monday through Wednesday due to the problem.
Initially, plans were to have the problem fixed by Tuesday so classes could resume Wednesday. However, utility personnel were waiting Wednesday on the breaker needed to restore the circuit back to operable condition.
They received it Wednesday afternoon, installed it, and classes were able to resume Thursday.
Hargrove said such large- scale breakers are not an in-stock item, and the one the school received had to be specially manufactured by Schneider Electric in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which caused a delay, waiting to get the part to finish the repair work.
Greg Mantooth, FCHS principal, said the school’s north half section was without power due to the problem. He noted that classes could not be held because the computer and fire alarm system were inoperable without electricity.
Sharber told the board Monday that the high school was using its “snow days,” reserved for when school is canceled due to inclement weather.
Although the high school was out a total of four days due to the electrical damage, Sharber said the other schools were in session during that time and did not use any additional snow days.
System-wide, two snow days were used due to cold, icy weather last week.