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No immediate risk of roof collapse, but problems still loom at Westside Elementary in Hernando



SPRING HILL - The facilities at Westside Elementary School, while still in need of millions in repairs, are structurally sound and pose no immediate threat to student safety, according to a new engineering report commissioned by the Hernando County School District.

"We do not have an imminent danger of a roof collapse," said facilities director Roland "Bo" Bavota.

Earlier this week, the district received a verbal report from Orlando-based structural engineering firm, Amore Engineering, stating that the structural components of the roof are in good shape. The biggest issue was "a little bit of rust" from water leaking in.

In a letter to Westside parents, superintendent Lori Romano said students and families will "continue to participate in a full-range of programs and services on Westside Elementary's campus through the end of the current school year."

But now for the bad news.

While the support structure is fine, the roof itself is considered "failed" because it leaks and is unable to shed water, Bavota said.

"It still needs to be replaced," he said.

He said a failed roof can pose a danger to students because water can seep into the building, getting into electrical fixtures and causing ceiling tiles to collapse, which has already happened.

"It's still a danger to students from the perspective of the ceiling tiles, but we're not going to have a roof collapse," he said. "That was the main issue."
Aside from the structural engineers, Bavota said experts with Allied Roofing checked out the roof out to see if it could be repaired instead of replaced.

The verdict: It can't be repaired any more, he said.

Bavota said the roof is in bad enough shape that "students should not be in that building next year."

School officials say it will cost roughly $3.7 million to replace the roof and the school's HVAC system, which sits on top of it.

On Friday, Bavota estimated it would take roughly 44 weeks from start to finish to replace the roof and HVAC, including the time for design, bidding, ordering equipment and construction.

At a School Board workshop earlier this month, board members received a report on Westside's condition and discussed a range of possible options.

The choices included replacing the school's roof and air-handling system, razing and rebuilding the school, or closing it altogether.

The School Board will consider the options at a workshop on May 6.

Numerous Westside parents and community members spoke against closing the school.

[Last modified: Friday, April 25, 2014 4:16pm]


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