- Associated Press - Sunday, November 8, 2015

EATON, Ind. (AP) - District officials for an eastern Indiana elementary school that had to evacuate students two days in a row before canceling classes because of natural gas odors in the building are hoping they’ve fixed the problem.

Delaware Community Schools officials told the (Muncie) Star Press (http://tspne.ws/1QjFq8z) they believe the smell at Eaton Elementary School, 10 miles north of Muncie, was being caused by a noncombustible gas that was getting into the air ventilation system after being emitted from heat exchangers on the building’s roof.

The district replaced the school’s heat exchangers at the elementary school during fall break at a cost of $73,915. The air intake vents on the roof units were uncovered and feet away from where the gas releases. During the last week of October, the district hired a contractor to add shields on top of the air intake vents and extend the gas pipe with flues to try to get the gas being emitted further from the building.

Overall, students have been evacuated from the school six times since last academic year. The Eaton Fire Department, Albany Fire Department, Muncie Fire Department and an Indiana state fire inspector have been to the elementary school since April. The Department of Homeland Security sent an inspector and hazmat team. No carbon monoxide or natural gas had been found.

For the next 30 days, the district has hired an inspector - at $20 an hour - to be at the building with a detection device. If the odor returns, Mann said, the inspector can make sure it is not harmful before evacuating students.

“In my opinion, you wouldn’t want to keep evacuating at this time,” he said. “(The) added support mechanism would reduce number of disruptions in the classroom setting.”

He said no one has smelled the odor this past school week.

The unexpected cost is coming out of the about $1.8 million Capital Project Fund’s cash balance, which is money left over from last year.

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Information from: The Star Press, http://www.thestarpress.com

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