Loudon school opening depends on inspection

Monday, August 13, 2007

Loudon High School may open this Wednesday if the building passes a state fire marshal’s inspection today.

The school failed an inspection Friday because of fire code violations, but still has hopes of opening for students this week.

“The fire inspectors will be here at 9:30 in the morning (today),” Loudon County Schools Superintendent Edward Headlee said over the weekend.

“If they pass us we’ll be good to go for Wednesday.”

The building, which opened in 1967, has failed to pass safety inspections at least twice this summer, resulting in several delays in starting school. The delays have only affected the high school.

The first day of classes was originally scheduled for Aug. 8 but was delayed until today, pending Friday’s inspection.

Although the school department said it hopes to start on Wednesday, it is prepared to delay the first day of school until Aug. 20 if the building does not pass today’s inspection.

Among the code violations discovered in the most recent inspection were fire doors, fire alarms and smoke dampeners. “Some of the fire doors wouldn’t latch properly,” Headlee said.

Repairs were reportedly under way Friday and over the weekend. “The fire dampeners arrived Friday and should have been installed,” he added.

The school system had originally wanted to give teachers at least two days to prepare their classrooms before beginning school. The teachers will have only a single day to prepare if school starts Wednesday.

“We’ll let the teachers in just as soon as the building is cleared for occupancy,” Headlee said.

The repeated delays have cut into the budget of available snow and sick days the state allows schools to use for such unforeseen events.

“If we start on Wednesday we will be five days short. We have 13 days allotted and if we go over that we will have to check with the (state),” Headlee said.

Loudon Co. High School opening depends on Monday inspection

August 10, 2007

LOUDON (WATE) -- The state says if Loudon High School passes the fire marshal's inspection on Monday, it can open on Wednesday.

The state fire marshal re-inspected the school Friday but at least six items still need to be repaired including the fire alarm system, smoke doors and fire dampeners.  

Maintenance crews hope to hope everything completed by Monday. If the school passes the fire marshal's inspection Monday, teachers will be let in as soon as possible.

If the fire marshal still isn't satisfied that the school is up to code, administrators could push the opening date to August 20.  But Loudon County Schools Director Edward Headlee says that's the worst case scenario.

Officials at Loudon High School have delayed the opening date twice so crews can finish bringing it up to code.

Loudon High was originally going to open on August 8. But the date was pushed back to August 13 and eventually, the 15th.

The fire marshal has to approve all the corrections at the school before it can open.

Loudon, Loudon County (WVLT) - Closed due to code violations, Loudon High School gets yet another failing inspection Friday from the State Fire Marshal's office.

WVLT Volunteer TV’s Stephen McLamb was there to find out if they will be able to start school on Wednesday as planned.

They’re planning on it. Inspectors will be back but if given the all clear teachers will have short notice and have to be ready to go.

State Fire Marshal inspectors were back at Loudon High School for a second time checking to see if code violations had been addressed. At the end of the day, another failing grade so they'll be back.

"We're going to come back Monday and re-inspect. Hopefully at that time we'll be able to give them a passing grade,” says State Fire Marshal Code Enforcement Supervisor Mark Boyd.

The problem, a fire safety issue.

The lack of dampers in some concession stand ductworks which could be a serious problem in case of a fire.

"When the fusible link burns out, the damper closes and seals that wall off and doesn't allow for penetration of smoke or fire,” Boyd explains.

School officials say that repair is on the fast track.

"We did just learn by telephone call that the fire dampers for the concession stand are en route,” Loudon County Director of Schools Edward Headlee says.

Other than some door repairs and a small issue with the fire alarm system, school officials are optimistic Monday's inspection will not be strike three. They had hoped to give teachers two full days of prep.

"But if everything meets our satisfaction Monday morning we can get teachers in here by noon Monday. We're still on schedule to have students start on Wednesday,” Headlee says.

The school's principal says teachers have been preparing as best they can at home and plans to streamline protocol so students can start hitting the books.
"We're not going to have any teacher meetings. We're going to open up the door and say come and get it and I'm going to turn it loose as long as everything is ready to go."

Superintendent Edward Headlee says he expected those dampers to arrive at the school Friday afternoon and be installed Friday.

It's still unclear if the school year will have to be extended or if the days can be absorbed in their snow days.

School officials are planning to ask the state for some leniency.