Persistent leaks in newly remodeled hall destroy materials, dislocate class


Nola Levings

A tarp is draped across the ceiling of art teacher Todd Poteet’s classroom to prevent further leaking.

By Daniel Davidson, Nola Levings

A portion of the ceiling in a newly renovated art classroom collapsed this week after months of leaks.

While art teacher Todd Poteet’s classroom ceiling has been leaking for nearly four months, Poteet said the problem has grown from being isolated to one part of the room to leaking nearly everywhere. Several teachers have complained about roof leaks since the innovation corridor opened Sept. 12 — following a nearly month-long delay that pushed back the start of the school year.

This most recent incident, where ceiling tiles collapsed onto the floor, forced classes out of room 320 — a newly renovated part of the innovation corridor — and into the old weights room.

Poteet said water soaked the entire room, including paperwork and a light table. Chronic leaking and a previous ceiling tile collapse destroyed books and art supplies, with Poteet estimating current damages around $3,000 from the art budget. Although Poteet has not been told if, and by who, those materials would be compensated for, Poteet was told his room would be ready again by next Wednesday, Jan. 29, a date he is skeptical of.

“You can go into my room, and if you take a flashlight and look, you can find daylight through the ceiling,” Poteet said. “There are very clear holes.”

The exact cause of the leak is unclear, but neighboring teacher Jennifer Dixon-Perkins’ graphic design classroom has also had a continuous leak for months in the corner of her room. Water also came down behind room 320’s walls and another corner of the hallway appears to be leaking from the ceiling.

Poteet said he contacted administrators and the construction company McCownGordon following the initial Sept. 30 incident and both have investigated the problems since, but leaks have continued. Poteet was told the original construction plan was to redo the roofing over the summer, but believes that is likely to change.

The exact cause of the leak is unknown to Poteet, but he has heard speculation over a condenser above the innovation corridor leaking, as well as concerns over construction causing a diversion of water over those rooms.

Math teacher Christine Coursen said she believes gravel piles on the roof that appeared during construction, visible from her second story room, could be causing a buildup of water contributing to the leak.

The exact extent of financial impact to class materials and the building is not known, and neither is it clear who might be responsible for replacing those materials or addressing the roof damage. The Budget reached out to district facilities director Tony Barron over email this morning and is waiting for a response.

“I think the leak is insane because it’s brand new,” Drawing II student Alice Hull said. “I can’t understand why they just didn’t do it right the first time.”

Although art students have helped move supplies to the retired weights room, Poteet said the leak is especially worrying for Advanced Placement students who have a hard deadline for their works.

“It’s a cascade effect,” Poteet said. “You lose days… you have to alter the assignments because we don’t have access to the materials, and so that pushes back the entire semester.”

Megan Drumm contributed to this report.