Shoultes Elementary on the mend

Marysville School District Maintenance Manager John Bingham, left, and Cobra Construction owner Jack Walkley discuss the remaining repairs to the library of Shoultes Elementary. - Kirk Boxleitner
Marysville School District Maintenance Manager John Bingham, left, and Cobra Construction owner Jack Walkley discuss the remaining repairs to the library of Shoultes Elementary.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — Although the library of Shoultes Elementary suffered significant water damage in the wake of burst pipes just before winter break, the Marysville School District and Cobra Construction expect to have the impacted library space open for business later this spring.

Shoultes Elementary librarian Nancy Hammer recalled how a frozen pipe in the ceiling burst in her back office two weeks before Christmas and flooded about half her library. She credited maintenance worker Troy Sappingfield with coming into the school on a hunch on a Sunday, and cutting the flood short before it could do more damage.

“If he hadn’t been there to shut off the water, it would have destroyed more than 14,000 books in our library,” said Hammer, who noted that only about 100 books were lost instead.

Unfortunately for Hammer, virtually all of her belongings in her office were ruined, from her computer to the supplies for her annual Shoultes Elementary plays.

“When I came back to school after that weekend, I was an emotional wreck,” said Hammer, who was joined that day by MSD Superintendent Dr. Becky Berg. “She asked me if it was okay for a superintendent to give me a hug.”

One item that just so happened to survive the flooding, which reached a depth of five inches, was a scrapbook which Hammer had kept, which she then lent to Berg. That very night, another pipe burst directly over where Hammer had kept her scrapbook, so she would have lost it as well if she hadn’t given it to Berg.

While Hammer lamented the loss of her personal items and supplies for the school plays, she’s been more concerned with the inconvenience to the students in her library, who have had to sit on the floor and write on clipboards, rather than sitting in chairs and writing on desks in the half of the library that hasn’t been separated from the rest with plastic tarps.

“These kids have been amazingly resilient, though,” said Hammer, even as she recalled one student who felt the need to jump up because his foot had fallen asleep from sitting so awkwardly. “They’re really good sports, even though the fifth-graders were looking forward to staging ‘The Wizard of Oz’ this year. It’s devastating to me that I won’t be able to give them that experience.”

MSD Maintenance Manager John Bingham estimated that the building repair work itself could run roughly $22,000, with about another $20,000 to replace the fixtures, supplies and cabinetry, as new insulation and sheetrock are installed, the walls are repainted and the carpets are replaced.

“By the end of spring break, we should be using all of this space again, although we’ll still be waiting on new cabinets,” Bingham said. “We’ll be using tables in the short term.”

Bingham explained that the school district is working with the Everett-based Cobra Construction to try and restore the space to as close to its former appearance and layout as possible.

In the meantime, while Hammer had planned to retire at the end of the next school year, she’s recently reevaluated that schedule.

“I think it’s just time,” said Hammer, who now expects to retire at the end of the current school year. “I keep looking at these kids, and they’re still adorable, so I don’t want to let my head go there yet, but there’s another teacher at Shoultes who might be able to take over directing the plays next year.”

“We just love Nancy,” said Lynn Heimsoth, principal of Shoultes Elementary. “She’s always wanted to do the best for our children here, and even in her last year, she’s been looking at how we can serve them better.”


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