Emergency repairs for school roofs OK'd

Loudon County board approves funds to fix leaks

Hugh G. Willett, knoxnews.com

A week of heavy rains forced the Loudon County school board Thursday night to take emergency action to halt leaking roofs at several schools.

After hearing a report from schools maintenance supervisor Dave Hemelright that all but one of the county schools have been springing leaks this week, the board voted unanimously to authorize emergency repairs.

Board member Van Shaver described the situation at Loudon Elementary School, where children were sitting amid buckets and trash cans filling from 20 or more separate leaks.

"Why can't we stop these leaks now?" he asked.

Shaver said he watched as audiovisual equipment shorted out from leaking water.

"We're into life safety issues," Shaver said. "If your or my house had been leaking since July, do you think I'd still be talking about it?"

The roof at the elementary school has been leaking for more than a year, Loudon County resident Pat Hunter told the board.

"The longer it takes to fix this, the more it will cost," Hunter said. "I'm also concerned about effects of moisture and mold on children's health."

Loudon Elementary PTO President Wendy Baustian said repairs to the roof at the elementary school have been on the top of the list of things needing to be fixed for more than a year.

Delays in the installation of HVAC systems have subsequently delayed the replacement of the roof, Hemelright said. Replacing the roof before HVAC installation might compromise the new roof, he said.

Roof work has also been delayed due to the weather, he said.

The board discussed waiting until the HVAC work was completed and asked how long that might take.

Hemelright said based on his estimates, it might not be possible to complete the HVAC work and install the new roof until the spring.

"We've danced around this too long," said board member Bill Marcus.

Board member Craig Simon called for a corrective action plan and emergency repairs to begin immediately.

"Isn't there something we can do immediately and then plan for something better?" Simon asked.

Board chairman Leroy Tate said the board could authorize emergency repairs from the maintenance fund or from the money allocated for the new roof. The board authorized Hemelright to draw money from the maintenance budget.

The board also voted unanimously to send out the bids to put new roofs on the schools as soon as possible.