Roof Leakage at Consentino Leads Fiorentini to Seek Action, State Aid

Water damage to the Consentino Middle School’s roofs has been an ongoing issue for the last five to six years, according to Haverhill Education Association president Ted Kempinski. (Courtesy photograph.)

Mayor James J. Fiorentini is renewing his efforts to improve conditions in Consentino Middle School after this weekend’s snow storm caused severe damage to the school.

Severe leaking and cracks in the roof of the middle school led to several classes worth of students being relocated to the cafeteria on Monday. Haverhill High School Social Studies Teacher and Haverhill Education Association President Ted Kempinski said ceiling tiles in around one fourth of the classrooms on the upper floor of the school and one fifth of the floor’s hallways were damaged, with some tiles even falling. No students were injured by falling tiles, as the damage occurred over the weekend before the school opened.

Meanwhile, Councilor Colin F. LePage took to social media to note similar problems at the John Greenleaf Whittier School. He showed photographs of damaged classrooms and asked, “Is this acceptable.”

The issue of leaking school roofs played a prominent role in last week’s tax votes by city councilors. Councilors and educators pointed to roof problems as examples of the city’s failure to spend enough on schools.

Fiorentini countered at the time that the School Department always had the power and money to make the repairs. In a Facebook post on Monday, the mayor said the City Council petitioned the state’s School Building Authority last March for money to make repairs, and said he expects an answer from the state in mid-December. Meanwhile, he has asked Superintendent Margaret Marotta to obtain an estimate for the fixes.

Fiorentini told WHAV he is working toward a fix as soon as possible. “We certainly need to fix the roof and we will. But water leaking from a roof should not be used as an excuse to soak our taxpayers,” he said. “We have a maintenance plan and a capital plan and these matters will be taken care of.”

This is not the first time this has happened, according to Kempinski. He says that almost all the roofs in the building have suffered water damage over the last five to six years and that children have been hit with falling tiles and sent to the nurse’s office in the past. Kempinski says the state of the roofs in the school is not merely a “band-aid problem” a one-time repair can fix and a system-wide study of the roof’s condition is needed. Summed up the union boss to WHAV: “This is unacceptable.”