Faulty roof leaking at Paw Paw elementary

A chuck of ice outside Later Elementary, caused by water flowing from a faulty roof. (March 6, 2013)

PAW PAW, Mich. (WOOD) — An improperly designed roof is allowing water to leak into classrooms at Paw Paw’s Later Elementary.

Paw Paw Public Schools Superintendent Tony Habra told 24 Hour News 8 the district realized the roof had problems within about a year of it being installed.  Later Elementary 030614

“The roof was not designed appropriately,” said Habra. “We’ve had problems with the roof, but nothing as bad as this year because this year has such terrible weather and so much snow.”

The roof’s biggest problem is a lack of insulation. As the metal roof warms, the snow on top of it melts.

“[The snow] then flows over the edge of the eaves where it is cold again, refreezes; but as more snow falls and more snow rolls down, it’s still water. The water then forces its way back up through the panels as they’re set and sometimes comes in the school,” Habra explained.

Habra said the problem is different than the ice dams that sometimes damage the roofs of houses. He said that the attic of a school needs to stay warmer than an attic in a home because things like fire suppression equipment are kept there. He said the school’s attic is fairly empty and the water damage would likely be minimal — and the tiles from the dropped ceiling across the school would need to be replaced.

Habra said that the leaking is not a danger, but staff have had to place buckets to catch the leaking water in classrooms. He went on to say that the water tends to come in waves and when the weather warms up a bit.

The district sued the company that installed the faulty roof — a company that is no longer in business. After years of litigation, Paw Paw Public Schools received between $800,000 and $900,000. That’s not enough to completely replace the roof, but Habra said it is a good amount to make sure the roof is insulated properly.

“It took some time, and unfortunately we’ve had to deal with a terrible winter this year. But in the end, we’re going to have our kids in a nice, dry place again and be able to maintain this nice 50-year roof for another 42, 43 years,” said Habra.

He said that the district did not have the funds to replace the roof before it received the settlement dollars.

The school board has already approved the construction and architectural firms who will repair the roof. The project is extensive, so it won’t begin until after school is out for summer.

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