Walking into school in the morning, many Penn Manor students are noticing the yellow caution tape leading into the building.
Students are buzzing about the reasons for the tape. Rumors circulated concerning replacing steps, new light fixtures and school vandalism.
The real cause, according to school officials, is deteriorating ceilings.
Penn Manor High School’s principal Phillip Gale said the problems began to show over the summer after a part of the ceiling collapsed. The Dryvit, an external finishing material, was installed with a poor structural system. The screws used in the structure were too small to support the weight placed upon them. Because the screws could not hold the weight, the Dryvit began to pull away.
Over the years, the weather has weakened the existing structure even more. Any rain water that was collected above the ceiling made its way into puddles above the Dryvit. The sitting water had been forcing the ceiling to part from the hardware. The risk and danger brought about by the deterioration was on a rise.
But is the Dryvit unsafe? “Yes,” Gale said.
After seeing the caving of the outside ceiling, Penn Manor officials called professionals in to perform architectural studies of the structure. The results proved the need for a reconstructed ceiling.
To keep the students out of harm’s way, caution tape has been put around all areas where the original Dryvit is still in place. The tape runs from the stairs leading outside of the bridge, under the overhangs outside of the cafeteria, all the way to the stairwell leading to Central Complex.
There is no hazard facing the students or faculty as long as they remain in the designated areas, Gale indicated.
All Dryvit in the walking path had been safely removed before school began in August, he said.
In order to fix the ceiling, the existing Dryvit will be demolished. The demolition and construction should be completed by January of 2011.
In a recent article in the Lancaster New Era, Penn Manor’s superintendent Mike Leichliter, said the new overhangs will be installed with aluminum.
After it is taken down, a new structure will be installed that is much safer and will eliminate all threats the old one may have previously posed.
Because the original contractor built the structure to standards of that year, they are not liable for the costs of the project.
As of now there is no set cost for the demolition and re-installation. The district currently has the job out to bid. The price of the construction will depends on the bid themselves and the decisions of the overseers.
Penn Manor plans on paying for the costs with district funds as well as capital funds. Gale said the rests of the costs should be covered by the school’s insurance.
No other major projects are scheduled for Penn Manor High School in the near future.
By Toni Warfel