GIBSON CITY — Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School's students and teachers were temporarily moved to the Gibson City Bible Church on Wednesday morning as work got under way to repair a leaking water main at the school.
Principal Chris Garard said the school's 310 students and 35 teachers were given the news during their first-hour classes and were out of the building within 30 minutes. Students who drove to school were allowed to drive to the church, about a mile away, while all others were bused there.
Classes resumed almost immediately after their arrival at the church.
"We had the kids first report to the gym at the church, and it took about 15 minutes to organize the classrooms, making sure they had enough chairs," Garard said from the church.
"It's been business as usual since then," Garard said. "They're in class, the teachers are teaching, and the kids are learning."
The church features a large multipurpose room, cafe and eating area, 13 classrooms and library.
Garard said the temporarily relocation was necessary because the school's water had to be shut off to allow the repair of the leaking water main, located underneath the floor of a hallway.
Garard said he hopes the work will be done this week, allowing the school to re-open by next week.
"We're going to be out today and tomorrow for sure, and we'll have to go day-by-day after that," Garard said.
Parents were told of the news Wednesday morning through the school's automated notification system. The school also used WGCY-Radio in Gibson City to spread the news.
Garard said Stephens Excavating & Concrete, Urbana, is doing the digging work, while the water-main repairs are being done by Lanz Heating & Cooling, Champaign.
The exact location of the leak was not found, Garard said, so a new water line will be run "from where we know there wasn't a leak" to the main shutoff valve — a distance of about 20-25 feet.
The head maintenance worker first detected a problem over Christmas break, when he noticed that excess water was running into a sump pump in the boiler room. Officials found the original 1954 main — which runs under the two-story red brick building, at 815 N. Church St. — had burst somewhere and was leaking.
"We were hoping we could repair it this summer, but the leak has gotten much worse. We're afraid of erosion underneath the building," Garard said.