HOUSTON – At a special called Houston School Board meeting Monday, Sept. 30, at 8 a.m., trustees took steps toward solving a years-long problem: a leaking roof at the Upper Elementary School cafeteria.

The board voted 5-0 to declare the aging, twice-replaced cafeteria roof at the upper elementary school to be an emergency situation. The cafeteria is connected to the school building by an expansion joint that is also causing some of the leaking issues.

The declaration fast-tracks the process of finding a company that can replace the roof, and hopefully have the work done before the end of this month, Superintendent Tony Cook said this week. No final decision on a company to do the work has yet been made.

There are actually three layers of roofs on the approximately 2,000 sq. ft. one floor cafeteria building – the original tar-asphalt structure and two other roofs put on later. All three were put on before Cook came to Houston in July of 2015.

He said despite the leak, the cafeteria is still being used; “No one’s missing lunch, and we are not having to feed students in their classrooms.” The cafeteria feeds about 435 third through fifth grade youngsters who cycle through in groups of about 50-60.

“We’ve got a serious leak that has been there for 12-15 years, and it’s getting progressively worse. When we get a significant amount of rain, we have to move students away from the northwest side of the cafeteria, because that’s where the leak is.”

He said while work is under way to replace the roof, the building will most likely continue to be used.

“Repairs have been put off and put off, but it’s gotten to the point where the roof has got to be replaced. The re-roofing costs have been estimated to be as high as $150,000-plus, and will come out of the school district’s funds. For a district our size, that’s a significant amount of money, and we’re going to closely monitor the work and do our best to make sure that it is done correctly this time,” Cook said.

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