Leaky school roofs may be plugged

When second-grade teacher Susan Seki goes to bed at night and hears rain, she hopes the books in her classroom are dry and that her students won’t have to wear galoshes during class the next day.

The Lincoln Elementary School in Burlingame instructor finds it hard to teach vocabulary and arithmetic when the school’s deteriorated roof allows rain to drip through her classroom’s windowsill. Placing buckets around the room — something the school has done twice this school year — does not help the learning environment, either.

“Some teachers have come into their classroom after a night’s rain and found puddles,” Seki said. “I’ve had books damaged and [the rain] soaks into carpets. I’m still waiting on garbage cans to return after lending them to other classrooms.”

With the $48.3 million structural bond called Measure A passing overwhelmingly Nov. 6, Seki and her Lincoln colleagues, along with other Burlingame Elementary School District teachers, should finally get their roofs fixed.

The bond’s funds are set aside for the district’s buildings, which are between 50 to nearly 100 years old, said Superintendent Sonny Da Marto. It was the first structural bond passed since 1996, he said.

Exactly what the money will be used for will be decided during six town-hall meetings involving district and school staff along with parents over the next few weeks. Da Marto said the schools’ roofs will be an issue that will almost certainly be tackled.

“I’ve had leaks in my classroom,” said Teachers Association President Annette De Maria, who teaches at McKinley Elementary. The problems led to a new carpet in her classroom and a variety of temporary fixes, but the only real solution to the flooding and “weird smells” seem to be structural improvements, she said.

The district held similar town halls last spring, so these get-togethers will be “one more pass-through” to get any further input before the master plan is sent to the board of trustees for approval, Da Marto said. Construction could start as early as summer, he said.

Teachers said students will notice changes once these structural improvements are made — and not just the absence of rain-catching buckets.

“It’s a mental improvement,” De Maria said. “They know when it’s worked on, they know when it’s clean. A better mood is better learning.”

mrosenberg@examiner.com  

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