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Gunnison school really stinks

Article by Central Staff

Education – March 1999 – Colorado Central Magazine

Many kids will tell you that “school stinks,” but at the elementary wing of the Gunnison Community School, it’s the literal truth. Ever since the new building opened in the fall of 1997, it has been plagued by foul odors that cause headaches and stomach upsets.

The problem has been reduced over time, so that it no longer affects the middle school. But the elementary portion, especially the first-grade rooms, still suffer.

What’s causing it?

The first explanation involved a stack that vents methane and other gasses from a city sewer main. It’s only 20 feet from an intake for the school’s ventilation system. Changing that helped, but the odors still invade some classrooms.

The school district, the Denver contractor who constructed the building, the city public works department, and various state agencies have been working on the problem, which is complicated because it’s intermittent.

“I don’t think anybody knows what’s causing it,” said Jack Curtis, school district director of transportation and maintenance.

The latest effort, was to install a P-trap between the school’s sewer line and the city sewer main. In theory, that will prevent main-line stench from sneaking into the school via that route.