School canceled Tuesday at John Muir in Portage due to gas leak

November 28, 2018

School will resume Wednesday at John Muir Elementary following completed repairs to the building’s natural gas regulator, which malfunctioned Monday and caused the school’s closure Tuesday.

Staff members smelled the gas while making routine safety checks Monday night, said Superintendent Margaret Rudolph. There was no school Monday throughout district due to teacher in-service.

Building and Grounds Director Steve Geike, Portage police, the fire department, Alliant Energy and the Monona-based mechanical systems contractor Johnson Controls responded and ultimately pinpointed the natural gas regulator located at the backside of the building as the cause of the leak.

“Safety is our top priority,” Rudolph said. “The gas leaked out over the top of the building, and so it did exactly what it was supposed to do when it malfunctions: the gas disperses in the atmosphere and then you smell it.”

The part that malfunctioned was about 40 years old, Rudolph said. “Everything else looks good. We also had the boilers checked out.”

School went on as planned in the rest of the district Tuesday. Administrators contacted affected parents via Infinite Campus and email and provided updates on social media concerning the leak and Tuesday’s school closure. Sports activities set for Tuesday evening took place as normal.

“I want to give a big ‘thank you’ to Steve Geitke and Johnson Controls, who worked all night (Monday) to resolve the issue,” Rudolph said.

Whether Tuesday’s closure will eventually require John Muir to make up the lost time depends on how many days the school district is closed for weather-related issues in the winter, Rudolph said.

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