New middle school has a ‘rocky’ start to year

According to the Williamsport Area School District, a bank collapse that occurred Monday behind the newly opened Williamsport Area Middle School, 2800 W. Fourth St., will not affect normal operations of the school.

The collapse took place during excavation work on a bank behind the northern part of the new middle school at 2 p.m. on the first day of classes for the new school year. Hillside Avenue is closed as officials continue to work on the situation.

The portion of the middle school property will be the home to future athletic fields.

Greg Hayes, school district director of public relations, said no injuries occurred during the collapse, but a gas main pipe was exposed. He added that there was no further risk or threat to students and staff.

The collapse did not affect the school day Monday and will not disturb the school’s schedule. All district students were released early, as part of the district’s previously approved school year schedule.

Hayes reported that middle school students were dismissed at 11 a.m. as expected. Hayes added that city officials have been notified and will provide information as it becomes available.

Heavy equipment was seen Monday afternoon moving dirt toward the collapsed bank as officials supervised.

In a previous Sun-Gazette report, school Superintendent Dr. Don Adams had stated that site work on the middle school, which is yet to be completed, was to be performed while the school day was not in session.