RUMFORD — Hundreds of buckets line the Mike Puiia Gymnasium, several classrooms and the Muskie auditorium to collect water pouring in from the roof of Mountain Valley High School.

Yearly roof inspections didn’t anticipate the number of leaks caused by a couple of ice storms in December and January.

Buildings and Grounds Director Kenny Robbins said RSU 10 was about to have the roof shoveled but the engineer decided against it because the snow may slow melting of the 6 inches of ice under the snow. The engineer will be back this week to check on it.

“Everyone realizes there’s a sense of urgency,” Superintendent Craig King said. Action will be taken to repair or replace the roof this summer, he said.

The leaks have promoted cancellations of events and prompted the relocation of several classes and changes in course work.

In Steve McGinty’s art classroom several buckets are where work tables usually stand. Students and their projects are clustered on the perimeter of the room, and soon, the class will be moved to a safer and drier room.

It means the curriculum will change to painting because the materials and space needed for creating sculptures won’t be available in a regular classroom.

McGinty said physical education classes have been moved outdoors part of the time and the activities planned were changed because of the gym leaks.

Each day as he leaves his classroom, McGinty covers desks with tarps to protect them from water damage. Other teachers are doing the same.

He said a few buckets to catch water leaking in from the roof have been required every spring for several years, but this year is the worst.

“We have 27 buckets in this room to collect the ceiling juice,” he said.

He will move out of the art room when the spring thaw begins and stay out for about three weeks.

“We can’t just stop teaching. We adapt and we make jokes about it,” he said.

Scores of ceiling tiles throughout the building have been damaged and removed. Some of them in McGinty’s room were art work created by students in past years.

Along with the missing tiles has come a drop in the room temperature for some areas.

“We double our outfits,” ninth-grader Ashley Russell said, “because the heat system blows cold air.”

Classmate Grace Briggs said the students are getting used it.

“They are doing all they can,” she said.

Principal Matt Gilbert said minimal maintenance has been done the past few years due to budget cuts.

“We’ve had to move things. Last year, we had to use only a half-dozen or so buckets. We never anticipated this drastic downturn,” he said. “It was accelerated because of the ice storms. The roof doesn’t drain properly.”

So far, only tiles and some carpeting have been damaged. Robbins declined to speculate on the amount of damage.

The roof has been discussed at school board meetings the past few weeks. Suggestions have included a temporary fix that could cost nearly $80,000, or a complete roof replacement, estimated to cost more than $1.5 million.

“It’s unfortunate that this is disrupting teaching and learning, but the kids and teachers have been really good,” he said.

The school cannot go through another year without repair or replacement of the roof, he said.

The issue is on the board’s agenda for March 10.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: