'Westhills was flooded,' Abernathy said to board

Friday, September 21, 2012
Tribune photo by Clint Confehr Westhills Elementary School students point to where rain leaked into their classroom on Monday.

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

Descriptions of rain water leaking through school roofs on Monday may have seemed overly dramatic Monday night during the Marshall County school board meeting.

However, stained walls bore silent testimony Tuesday as students, teachers and a principal pointed to where water was dripping through the ceiling and threatening electronic equipment.

"Westhills was flooded," schools director Jackie Abernathy told the school board about the elementary school on West Ellington Parkway.

She endorsed a school tour Tuesday. Her list of leaks was confirmed.

Leaky roofs at several schools were a school board concern May 15 when the board's maintenance committee recommended a school maintenance crew should repair leaks with available resources and ask county commissioners for more repair funding in the next budget.

Commissioners meet Monday to adopt the budget that adds $300,000 for school maintenance. School maintenance committee members meet Tuesday.

Roofs aren't the only problem.

"We're having sewer odor at the portables in Chapel Hill," School Board member Harvey Jones told the board Monday. "It's a shame that kids have to go to school there."

Chapel Hill Elementary School principal Dean Delk is a county commissioner voting on the budget Monday.

This week Delk got help from the town.

Chapel Hill Town Administrator Mike Hatten sent the city's consulting engineer to the elementary school, Abernathy said, to follow up on Jones report about portable classrooms.

Another problem with those classrooms is fire safety. Doors are on only one side of the portable classrooms.

"We need to put back doors there," school board member Ken Lilly said. "I can't wait for the five year plan," Lilly said of a program to deal with such issues.

Board member Kristen Gold asked Abernathy for a schedule from the school maintenance director on when leaking roofs would receive a coating all across the surface.

"This has probably been the worst," Westhills principal Sherry Park said of the leaks on Monday. "It's leaked for about a year. It's a flat roof. If you patch it here, it goes there."

Davis said in May, "We've patched and patched."

Still, Marshall County wasn't expected to be alone if it replaces roofs. "Lawrence County is doing four," Davis said in May.