Sometimes you have to spend money to save money. That's the approach adopted by the Fairfield Board of Education when ti comes to the warranties on the roofs of five elementary schools, which are scheduled to expire soon.

"We want roofs that don't fall through," Superintendent of Schools David Title told the school board last week, alluding to this snow-filled winter that has caused numerous roofs across the state to cave in over the last few weeks.

School officials have been told by Denver-based Johns Manville Manufacturing Co. that it will cost roughly $900,000 for the maintenance on the roofs at Roger Sherman, North Stratfield, Osborn Hill, Riverfield and Holland Hill Elementary schools, which will extend the warranties five additional years. The existing warranties -- which provided coverage of 15 and 20 years -- are all slated to expire at the latest by January 2012. The earliest one wraps up in August.

There are several school roofs in the district that have no warranties and need replacement, so by extending the coverage for the roofs of the five elementary schools, "We can better plan over a period of time to replace our roofs, rather than having to do them all at once," said board Chairman John Mitola said in a Thursday interview.

If the roof warranties aren't extended, replacement of one roof alone would cost significantly more than the price tag to do maintenance work on all five.

Tom Cullen, director of operations for the school district, said that if the Sherman warranty were allowed to expire and the roof later needs to be completely replaced, the price tag could be as much as $2 million.

The school board did not vote on extending the roof warranties, but may vote on the proposal at its March 8 meeting.