Urgent snow removal cancels SLS day
By Dawn De Busk
NAPLES — Students who attend Songo Locks Elementary School started their February vacation a day early.
The school day was cancelled at SLS on Friday because an excessive amount of snow on the roof of a modular posed some safety concerns.
The 20-plus inches of snow needed to be removed from the roof and then the snow needed to be cleared from the windows and the fire exit paths, according to Andy Madura.
Madura is the director of Transportation, Facilities and Food Services for School Administrative District (SAD) 61.
All the other schools in the district were in session on Friday.
Meanwhile, crews were busy removing snow from the roofs of the modulars. One modular in particular was high priority.
“We have a modular in the back — the one that doesn’t get much sun,” Madura said. “The sun does work for us, melting the snow on the roofs. But that one modular because of where it is situated tends to get a lot of snow drifting,” he said.
The snow-removal job could not be put on hold until the school children were released for vacation, he said.
“The main building is steel structure and it can take that weight,” Madura said.
However, the modular is a wooden structure with a flat roof. Additionally, because once the snow was removed from the roof, it would block the fire exits, which are also the only walkways in and out of the modular unit, it was best for students not to be present, Madura said.
“Always, we keep an eye on safety,” he said.
According to Madura, the parents of children attending SLS were made aware of Friday’s cancellation the evening before what would have been the last day of school before February break.
“I notified them last night once we measured the snow and made the decision in the evening,” he said.
In addition to the SAD 61 maintenance and custodial crew, the department contracts a roofing company, G&E Roofing Co., Inc., out of Augusta, Madura said.
“We’ve had them for years,” he said.
G&E employees monitor the snow on the roofs of the district’s school buildings. Also included in that contract, G&E is immediately available for snow removal or roof repair.
“With the OSHA regulations, they are geared up to get on roofs,” Madura said.
“We will spend all next week” clearing snow from the schools in the district, he said.
“The timing of the last three or four storms and a (school vacation) week to clear the snow is beneficial for us,” he said.
“In some places, we cannot pile” the snow on school grounds, he said.
“We have got dump trucks. Once you take it off the roofs, get it away from the windows, and get the snow away from the fire exits” the snow piles have to go somewhere, he said.
SAD 61 hires about 25 to 30 people for maintenance and custodial work.
“Those folks have been ‘gremlins’ working late at night, desperately trying to clean things up,” he said. “We are preparing for another 30 days of winter.”