Roof leaks have been a big problem for everyone at Sevier Middle School. The leaks started several years ago, and despite many attempts to fix them, they keep returning year after year.
Rodney Duncan, the head custodian, has fought against these leaks for several years.
“It seems to be an ongoing problem here at Sevier,” he said.
Mallori France is an 8th grade student. She believes fixing the roof leaks is overdue.
“I think they are a big issue and should be taken care of by the school system,” she said.
The leaks are not just a bother to students, but are also damaging the building
“The worst areas seem to be the bell tower, which we just had an engineer look at, and two of the load bearing walls they felt had deteriorated over the year,” Duncan said. “We are hoping to get this fixed over the summer.”
There are many places in the school with roof leaks, including the teacher workroom on the 8th grade hallway.
Amanda Cox is an 8th Grade math teacher. She has had to deal with the workroom leak nearly every day.
“There is a roof leak in the 8th grade workroom that has caused major problems for teachers,” she said. “Water leaked from the roof on top of all of our paper and ruined many packs of paper that could have been used in our classrooms this year. The leaks also caused us to have to move our copy machine and move around all of the furniture in the workroom, making it very difficult to work in there.”
Lynna Bingham, an 8th grade history teacher, agrees.
“For one, it smells very badly in there from the water sitting above the ceiling,” she said. “Secondly, and more importantly, the extra moisture in that room has damaged the copier. Not only was a lot of paper ruined because of the leak, but the moisture has caused some sort of problem with the copier that constantly causes it to jam even if paper is not stored in that room.”
The custodians have had to place buckets around the school to catch some of the water dripping from the ceiling. This is especially common in stairwells around the school and can be very distracting to students and teachers.
Hunter Mullins is the band director. He has not been directly affected by the buckets.
“Having buckets out is obviously not ideal for our campus or morale, but this type of maintenance requires planning and scheduling and tends to happen while school is out for the summer,” he said. “My primary concern would be the threat posed by having any unnecessary obstacle in high traffic areas.”
Bingham is worried that the leaks could lead to bigger problems.
“I am obviously not someone who knows a lot about building construction, but I would assume that roof leaks are the start of a larger problem, and the fact that the Sevier roof was fixed a few years ago, but these issues are still happening, makes me think that there are actually larger issues that need to be addressed.”
Roof leaks can be very dangerous in many ways .
“They can be a slipping hazard for students that are using the hallways,” France said. “The buckets in hallways and stairwells take away hallway space and make the hallways more crowded than they are already.”
“We also have a couple stairway roof drains that are leaking,” he said. “They are planning on insulation pipes to correct the problem, which is a very dangerous problem with students using stairways.”
The teacher workroom damage could become particularly dangerous, according to some teachers.
“I worry about problems like mold and mildew and how that might affect health,” Cox said. “I also worry about a section in the ceiling in the 8th grade workroom collapsing, as it looked like it was going to several times this year.”
The school system plans to tackle the problem once again over the summer.
“I think the best solution of permanently fixing the roof problem at all schools, not just Sevier, is maybe hire a couple full time roofers,” Duncan said.
Still, Kingsport City Schools has the means and motivation to keep their school buildings in top shape.
“We are very fortunate to have the economic means to keep our buildings looking and running well,” Mullins said. “The problem of aging facilities is something I have seen regularly addressed in school board minutes and it is on the radar of district leadership. Facilities management will likely be a primary challenge for KCS in the coming years.”
Another advantage, for Sevier Middle in particular, is the hard work the custodial staff puts in to keep the building running smoothly.
“I am thankful for the custodians and maintenance workers that do their best to remedy the issues as they can based on the budget allowed to be spent,” Bingham said.