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Parents salvage equipment at OKC school after pipes burst

OKLAHOMA CITY – As students were enjoying a day off from school, pipes inside their classrooms began to burst from the cold temperatures.

Water rushed from the ceiling of Harding Charter Prep and Harding Fine Arts Academy, ruining classroom equipment.

Officials say the water damaged everything from textbooks to a prized dance floor.

Harding Charter Prep’s principal, Justin Hunt, says it happened during the most critical time of the school year.

“There’s some water damage here on this bookshelf,” says Hunt. “We’re getting into testing season. We’re getting into April, to where schools have to use every single electronic device that you have.”

School officials from both schools rushed to the building on a snow day knowing they didn’t have much time.

Barry Schmelzenbach, the vice principal, said, “It sounded like a waterfall coming down from the ceiling.”

“Hopefully, we can get all this cleaned up,” says Hunt. “And open back up tomorrow and not miss a beat.”

When Harding Fine Arts principal Sherry Rowan saw the damage, her first thought was, “We can’t afford this.”

Finances are tight for Oklahoma charter schools.

The schools don’t receive funding from the state to maintain their building.

“So when we take a hit like this, the ultimate loser is the student,” says Rowan. “Because then we have to really tighten our budgets.”

To save what they could, they needed manpower.

Principals called on parents for help on Monday night and were overwhelmed by the response.

“I need parents, towels, shop-vacs, tools,” says Raquel Frazier. “I think we must have had 40 to 50 parents show up and students.”

Rowan says, “You have an opportunity to feel so grateful for the support that we’ve received from the parents and from the community.”