STANFORD — School board members have approved final payment on a roof-upgrade project for Lincoln County Middle School after multiple delays and issues with roof leaks.
Problems with the new middle school roof first made a splash in mid-July, when a missing gutter and an unsealed roof edge combined to create what Principal Debbie Sims described as a "waterfall" in the library.
Since then, leak issues have persisted, with rainwater let in by the roof doing damage in other locations, including the gymnasium and chorus room.
The roofing contractor in charge of the project, Lexington-based Burnett Sons Roofing Inc., paid for repairs to the library and to replace a pair of damaged Yamaha keyboards.
Sims has said that Burnett Sons has been good about responding to the school after leaks have been reported.
As late as December, the school was still dealing with leaks in the gym, kitchen and at least one classroom.
As a result, the board of education voted last month to withhold $5,203 from its final payment to Burnett Sons until it could be established that the last leak issues had been resolved.
Out of five roof-upgrade projects approved by the board of education in May, the middle-school-roof project was the only one given to Burnett Sons and the only one that has garnered public criticism from board members.
Board member Denny Hogue said he is unpleased with how the whole project has gone.
"I'm still a little reluctant to pay these people off but I guess if we have to, we have to," he said.
The board voted Jan. 10 to follow the recommendations of board attorney Jonathan Baker and district Building and Grounds Coordinator P.D. Roller and authorize payment the final withheld amount.
Despite the issues, the contract signed by both parties has been adhered to and Burnett Sons has been cooperative, Baker said.
Roller submitted a report showing that several remaining leak issues at the school are not due to the roof.
Roof not the only issue
Hogue said he visited the middle school last week and while there are still some leaks, he believes they are due to other repairs needed at the school and not necessarily issues with the roof.
"We still have some problems out there but I'm not here to say they're the roofing contractor's fault," Hogue told fell board members.
In one classroom, Hogue said he saw two trash cans propped along the wall to catch water from leaky windows.
"I don't think that's real conducive to teaching and learning," he said.
Superintendent Karen Hatter said administrators are in the process of identifying all maintenance issues across all the schools and then prioritizing what needs to be fixed first, given the district's limited cash flow.
"You made the comment that trash cans ware not conducive to learning," she said to Hogue. "They're probably not the only 'trash cans' sitting around in this district."
Roller said the district now has a system where every principal and head custodian turns in a list of maintenance needs at their buildings every month.
In the case of the middle school, stained ceiling tiles have been removed from the gymnasium and won't be replaced for a period in order to make it easier to detect any remaining leaks, Roller said. And there is a plan to caulk along leaky windows at the school, he added.