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updated: 2/23/2011 3:38 PM

Gavin officials, parents worried about roof

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  • An Independent structural engineer checks the trusses in the attic of Gavin Central school in Ingleside after cracks were found in the trusses back in 2004. A recent report shows six out of 44 wooden trusses over the classroom wings had partial or full fractures.

      An Independent structural engineer checks the trusses in the attic of Gavin Central school in Ingleside after cracks were found in the trusses back in 2004. A recent report shows six out of 44 wooden trusses over the classroom wings had partial or full fractures.
    Paul Valade/Daily Herald, 2004

 
By Abby Scalf, Daily Herald Correspondent

As school officials and parents learned about six new cracked roof supports at Gavin Central School, they raised questions about the building's safety and what can be done to protect students and taxpayers.

"We still have a roof that is not stable. Hearing year after year of breaks is hard to swallow. As a taxpayer, it's hard to swallow," Gavin Elementary District 37 school board member Deborah Boness said at a board meeting Tuesday night.

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Ted Haug from Legat Architects and John Duntemann of WJE Engineers appeared before the board to discuss the latest findings of roof support inspections in January at Gavin Central on Route 59 in Ingleside.

Haug said 44 wooden trusses were examined, and six partial or full fractures were found over the classroom wings.

Repairs are expected to be done in early April, during spring break.

The annual inspection and repairs are part of a legal agreement between District 37, Legal Architects and Boller Construction after 70 broken trusses were discovered in 2004.

Central was closed and scheduled for demolition. However, through litigation, demolition was halted when the school board and contractors worked out the annual inspection-and-repair program.

Within the last five years, 80 percent of the 600 roof supports have been inspected, and 128 cracks have been discovered, Haug said. Of that number, 114 trusses were repaired in the first two years, Duntemann said, but only 14 damaged supports were found in the five years since inspections began.

Board member Diane Hanson said officials and parents were told in 2008 they would start seeing less breakage as years went by.

"Not only does that not appear to be the case, but as you're talking about the fact that we're going to have 100 percent of trusses inspected, we have pictures of previously repaired trusses that are breaking again. It does not appear that it will ever be over," Hanson said.

Board President Connie Thorsen questioned how many more damaged trusses remain.

"You can't guarantee us that the trusses that have been inspected to date have not been broken," she said.

Duntemann said the program is designed to manage the problem, not eliminate it.

"We recognize there is a potential for continuing fractures. The reason for the inspection is to identify the fractures and repair those fractures," he said.

Those annual inspections will continue even after the legal settlement concludes, Haug said, and the situation will be reviewed after 10 years.

Thorsen asked for a color coded graph showing the location of each fracture and year it was detected.

"The most important thing the board can do at this time, based on the wonderful agreement that they kept referring to, is to continue to insist on due diligence of extensive inspection every year to make sure everything that is found is repaired," she said.

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