MASE charter school suffers heavy water damage from burst pipes

Published: Dec. 28, 2022 at 10:23 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A Memphis charter school is picking up the pieces Wednesday night after winter storms caused potentially millions of dollars worth of damage.

Leaders at Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering (MASE) on Jefferson Avenue say they found multiple pipes broken at one of their school buildings on Christmas Day.

The executive director says about 600 children attend the school, and about half will be impacted.

“I kind of looked through the windows of the school and I was terrified of the damaged that I’d seen,” said Executive Director Rod Gaston.

Gaston took Action News 5 on a tour of the damage caused by last week’s winter storm.

“About 95% of the ceiling tiles have fallen on the floor,” said Gaston. “There is extensive water damage. There is still water coming down as we speak.”

He says pipes burst inside the building that houses the main office, seventh and eighth-grade classes, along with some high school classes.

Middle School Director Danielle Powell has taught at MASE for several years and didn’t believe the amount of damage done until she saw it for herself.

“I walked in the door, so I thought it was just not that bad, and then I got upstairs onto my classrooms and I was just devastated,” Powell said. “To see the water... I actually cried and thought about all the years I’ve been here. I’ve never seen this building like that, and I thought about my babies and my teachers, so I was just devastated.”

Cleanup crews continue removing debris and water from the building.

Gaston believes the damage could total millions of dollars, including the cost of technology replacements and more, but he also says the district has been behind them the entire way, specifically MSCS Board Chair Althea Greene and Interim Superintendent Toni Williams.

“Our goal is to return to school next Tuesday,” said Gaston. “Our motto here at MASE is ‘Best is Our Standard,’ so every day we’re giving our best... so we’re going to make the best of a bad situation right now.”

Gaston says temporary classrooms will be set up across the street at Northwest Prep Academy.

Students return to school on Jan. 3.

Action News 5 reached out to MSCS multiple times asking if any other school buildings had any weather-related damage.

They told us assessments are ongoing and sent this statement below:

“We are thankful that our dedicated grounds and maintenance crews have been assessing, repairing, and monitoring our school buildings in the wake of the recent deep freeze. We look forward to welcoming our students back to school on Jan. 3.”

If you’d like to help MASE replace technology, school supplies, textbooks, and more, you can reach out to the school here.

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