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Roof Reconstruction Presentation at Jan. 24 BOE Meeting

School board weighs in on the project and potential cost impact of a bond

At the Jan. 24 Port Washington Board of Education meeting, BBS Architects & Engineers presented its proposal for fixing the roof at Weber Middle School. In addition, the architecture and engineering firm checked out other roofs at the schools within the district and presented proposals for fixing the roofs at Schreiber High School, Sousa Elementary School and Guggenheim Elementary School. To cover the costs of the roofs, the school board is looking towards a bond, which would be voted on by the Port Washington community.

At the beginning of the presentation, Roger Smith, principal architect at BBS, noted that they made a public presentation on fixing the roofs in 2003, but the district was not successful in obtaining funding since the bond was voted down by the community. He said that at this current time, the roofs have deteriorated even more. Throughout the presentation, Smith stated that for construction at schools, it is necessary to follow very specific building codes, some of which come from the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and the SED (State Education Department). One of the building codes includes a “fresh air” requirement, which deals with mechanical air circulation in the building, and BBS suggested fresh air upgrades at a few of the schools. BBS also suggested masonry reconstruction at some of the schools, since it is cracked and deteriorating in several areas.

Smith said that the costs and building codes associated with public buildings cannot be compared to the average roofing job at a home residence. He said that public buildings have to follow specific regulations and he further stated that a roofer would need bond insurances for this type of project. All costs associated with these regulations are included in the subtotal, he added.

At Guggenheim, the BBS proposal included the code-compliant fresh air requirement and the roofs over the cafeteria, library, and gym to be reconstructed, with installation of new shingles. The subtotal of this potential project would be $1,294,290.

Smith noted that the Sousa roof that BBS is suggesting reconstruction on is about 30 years old, and said, “When you have had a roof for 30 years, you’ve got everything you can get out of it.” Photos of the roof at Sousa were met with gasps from the audience, since these images showed it was covered with a thick carpet of moss. Smith said that the moss was causing much deterioration to the roof and he also stated that this roof has become much worse since 2003. The proposed subtotal for Sousa is $957,950.

For the roof at Weber Middle School, BBS provided two options. First, Smith explained the need to remove the existing slate, which has been deteriorating and sliding into the gutters above the gym. To replace the slate, they could use natural slate or they could use “centennial slate” asphalt roof shingles, which would be cheaper. Option 1 included the natural slate with a subtotal of $4,943,269. Option 2 was a lower cost, since it included the centennial slate, and it came in at a subtotal of $3,699,160. Both options also included masonry reconstruction and building code compliance upgrades, which remained the same cost in both options.

Masonry reconstruction, upgrades for building code compliance and reconstruction of parts of the roof at Schreiber High School were also included in this presentation. BBS estimated the subtotal to be $2,431,531.

At the end of the presentation, BBS provided the overall total costs for the proposed projects at the four schools. Since there were two options for Weber due to a difference in price for roof shingles, there were two options for the overall total. Option 1, which includes the natural slate at Weber, came in at a subtotal of $9,527,040 and Option 2, which includes the centennial slate, came in at a subtotal of $8,282,930.

Smith stated that prices from 2010-2013 are estimated to be at the best levels to achieve savings. He said that most contractors are willing to work for less and BBS estimated the costs without factoring this in, so the actual cost might end up being lower than what was suggested in the presentation.

Board Member Robert Ryan asked BBS, “Does the Weber roof need to be replaced now?” Smith said that their recommendation is to move as soon as possible on this project. Ryan asked about the life expectancy of a slate roof and Smith said that natural slate can last for anywhere between 50-75 years. As for the Sousa roof, Ryan asked if reconstruction is critical at this point, and Smith said that the life expectancy of this roof is finished.

Board Members Sandra Ehrlich and Dr. Roy Nelson both asked about a potential savings from having some of the work done by the district’s in-house maintenance staff. Smith said that if some of the construction could be accomplished with the school district’s own forces, then there is a potential to save a considerable amount of money.

School Board President Karen Sloan noted that the cost of this project has increased since the bond vote failed in 2003. She also said that a great deal of money, which comes directly out of the school budget, has been spent on emergency repairs since then. Sloan asked Jim Ristano, director of facilities and operations for the school district, to provide examples of some of the emergency repairs that have been done at Weber. “We are constantly replacing ceiling tiles because the rain is coming through,” he said, adding that mold starts growing on some of these tiles. He also stated that the water leaking through poses a safety risk and creates a hazard. “We do slate repairs on a regular basis… it just goes on and on,” Ristano said.

The dialogue on the potential costs of fixing the roofs of these schools is ongoing and the bond and BBS proposal will be further discussed at future Board of Education meetings.