Oh poop! Paso preschoolers forced to move after football fans’ sewage fouls classroom

A series of unfortunate events left a Paso Robles preschool classroom flooded with raw sewage Friday when a construction mishap blocked a pipe at the same time a football stadium full of fans started flushing the toilets.

Twenty-six preschoolers and three teachers were temporarily relocated to their old classroom at the Bauer Speck Elementary School campus after the backup caused sewage to spill into the portable unit on the Flamson Middle School campus, said Superintendent Curt Dubost of Paso Robles Joint Unified School District.

The backup occurred near the intersection of 26th and Spring streets, said Matt Thompson, city wastewater division manager.

It was caused, in part, by an accident that occurred when a district contractor was grinding down a portion of the road to be repaved on Saturday, he said.

A piece of debris fell down an opening into the sewage system, clogging the line, Thompson said.

The time was less than fortuitous, because, at the same time, a Paso Robles High School football game was being played at War Memorial Stadium near 24th and Spring streets.

The crowd of people using the toilets at the stadium caused the backup and spill to be worse that it ordinarily would have been, Thompson said.

“It was a combination of problems that led to the backup,” he said.

City crews helped clean up the sewage spill, which didn’t reach any nearby storm drains, Thompson said.

“It didn’t present any threat to public health and the environment,” he said.

The portable unit, which contains a toilet for young students, will be closed for 10 days to two weeks while crews thoroughly disinfect it, Dubost said.

School Sewage002
A sewage spill on Friday near Flamson Middle School in Paso Robles closed a portable preschool facility for two weeks, according to district officials. The portables, located near 26th and Spring streets, are being used while Bauer Speck Elementary School is undergoing renovations. Laura Dickinson

The entire incident will likely cost the district close to $50,000, he said.

“Claims will be filed with the contractor and city, and I’m sure we will negotiate a shared responsibility for the total cost once we know it,” Dubost said in an email.

Due to the classroom damage, students and teachers took a break from classes on Monday, according to a school Facebook post.

Bauer Speck students are attending classes in dozens of portable units for about two years while the district completes a multimillion-dollar campus renovation project, Dubost said.

After the Bauer Speck campus construction is complete, Georgia Brown Elementary School students will move into the portable units at the middle school while their campus is renovated.

Both projects will make use of dollars from Measure M, a $95 million bond voters approved in 2016.

Construction at the campus has not yet started, which is why the preschool classroom is still available. Once bids are approved, work at the site will begin as soon as possible, Dubost said.

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Lindsey Holden writes about housing, North County communities and everything in between for The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. She became a staff writer in 2016 after working for the Rockford Register Star in Illinois. Lindsey is a native Californian raised in the Midwest and earned degrees from DePaul and Northwestern universities.