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School Roofs Under Inspection For Leaks And Ice Damming



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School Roofs Under Inspection For Leaks And Ice Damming

By Eliza Hallabeck

It has been the kind of year for which the school district’s facilities director receives spontaneous applause, like he did at the Board of Education’s meeting on Tuesday, February 8.

The night before, Monday, February 7, Board of Education Chair William Hart began his board’s public hearing on the budget by telling the audience the 2010-11 school year has really taxed everybody so far due to the accumulated snow.

“From what I have seen everybody in our maintenance operation and in the town has really risen to the occasion,” said Mr Hart. “In particular, I know a lot of people have really been concerned about the snow load on the roofs of our buildings and some ice damming.”

School district Facilities Director Gino Faiella has been working with the town building inspector and a structural engineer, according to Mr Hart, to look at the snow loads, that until this week, were piling up on school roofs across the district. 

Mr Hart said on Saturday, February 5, he walked through all seven schools in the Newtown Public Schools district, and walked through four with Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson that morning,  February 7.

“There was some problem today with water leaking into the middle school,” said Mr Hart. “We had to close a number of classrooms, and unfortunately that was self-inflicted.”

In the process of clearing snow off the middle school’s C-Wing roof, Mr Hart said, the roof’s membrane was accidentally damaged. While the membranes are water resistant, Mr Hart said they are not designed to withstand sharp snow shovels.

“I do want to thank [Mr Faiella’s crew] they have been putting in a lot of time,” he said. “Everybody’s been putting in a lot of overtime.”

In response to a question from school board Vice Chair Debbie Leidlein, Dr Robinson said the roofs have been under inspection for the last four weeks, and all school roofs in the district are well below the rated load capacity.

“The ones, of course, that were a concern, when we began piling up snow, were the portables,” said Dr Robinson. “We have portables at Sandy Hook School, as you well know, and portables at the high school.”

Large expanses, like the roof at Head O’ Meadow, have also been inspected.

Concerning the current leaks at Newtown Middle School, Dr Robinson said, “There have been leaks at the middle school for the last several years, and they have done a lot of creative things to stop those leaks until they could get up on top. Fortunately, when [Mr Hart] and I arrived at the middle school today, [Mr Faiella] and the head custodian were up on the roof, and had just discovered two of the major leaks caused by the shoveling on the C-Wing.”

A roofing company has since been contracted to address the problem, and leaks still occurring in the gym are being looked into.

BOE member Richard Gaines also said he noticed a large leak in one of the school’s music rooms, and Dr Robinson said that leak has been there for “quite some time.”

“They vacated that room about two weeks ago,” said Dr Robinson, “and I don’t think they have found the source of that leak yet. They are working on it.”

Mr Hart pointed out the project to replace the roof at the middle school currently before the Public Building & Site Commission is scheduled to begin this summer.

“Let’s also keep in mind,” said Mr Gaines, “the later we go in the school year, the later the start is on that project.”

After the meeting, Mr Hart said the school district plans to have a structural engineer recheck as many buildings in the district as possible by the end of this week.

“I just want to make sure that we aren’t missing something,” he said.

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