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Joplin East middle school plagued by leaks for 5 years

District hopes to avoid legal action

East Middle Issues

JOPLIN, Mo - When it rains in Joplin, East Middle School gets wet but on the inside. The building is plagued with leaks. Damage is visible when you walk in the front door  of east middle school where carpet tiles are gone, insulation sags and drywall dips. 

Bill Patton, the school’s building engineer said, "It’s a constant leak."
Patton keeps mop heads under leaking window sills  in the school commons area. He said, "If any water gets on there (the floor) and stands for a while, then it’s gonna leave a big stain. We just kind catch the water that’s coming down."

Patton took us on a tour of damage. We went  to offices where a damaged desk had been moved. "The waters kind of stopped now, but  that’s where water we're catching comes in,” Patton said indicating a square plastic tub holding five inches of water. He added that it was there, “ Just a couple days, maybe a day."

Then we went to the art room where teachers can no longer use the cabinet or glass  windows facing the Commons to display projects because of leaks. Looking at a crumbling part of the ceiling, Patton said "We have repaired and  patched it but it’s just coming back."

Ceiling tiles are kept out because they  typically crumble when wet. We saw some broken in pieces in plastic tubs. But empty spaces exist in ceilings in numerous classrooms too. 
"We just like to keep them out just due to mold issues. It don't take long to mold your ceiling tiles," Patton said. 

East Middle was constructed after the Joplin tornado along with Soaring Heights elementary attached on its east end. East 
opened  in December of 2014.  Leaks appeared just months later. And have continued now for five years. 
Joplin schools director of Facilities Dave Pettit said the problem existed when he came into the position. Initially leaks were repaired and thought to be typical roofing issues but he said, "It's a little more in depth than we had originally thought."

Tthe district is trying to avoid a lawsuit. As recently as last week, Pettit said he was on a conference call with architects and the construction management team, Universal Construction. 

Pettit explained, “We believe there may have been some installations issues and that water proofing  which seems to be the main issue. We're trying to determine  who was responsible for which part of the water proofing, was it done, and was it done properly." 

Pettit said two different  third party reports traced leaks to transitions in the roofline.  And follow each of the red dividing walls.
Patton said the damage follows that theory. He said it,  "Runs through the line of  the school about the same distance." 
Universal construction, the project manager, said the contractor that did the work is no longer in business and it's dealing with the contractor's insurance company. A new company would have to be hired to make repairs.
They hope they’ll get to a permanent fix.  But until then cracks in walls, puckering paint and wet ceiling tiles will continue to appear at East Middle School. 
    
 


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