Board member concerned that cost is over estimated budget
By Cathy Lirette
Just three months after Proposition K was approved by taxpayers, crews have begun replacing the 70,000-square foot roof at Riverbend School in Pacific.
The reason for the redo is because the original roof was rusting underneath, causing leaks throughout the building.
“The school was built 13 years ago,” said Chris Delmain, director of maintenance for the Meramec Valley RIII School District. “Over the years moisture has built up beneath the metal panels and the underlying felt paper, as there was not proper ventilation to dry it out. This ultimately caused the panels to rust and for water to seep into the concrete and leak into the building.”
The school district has paid to fix these leaks, he said, however, it has gotten too costly to continue the upkeep.
“The district tries to spend tax payer’s money as wisely as it can, which is why the board voted unanimously to have roof replaced,” said Superintendent Dr. Ed Hillhouse. “We shouldn’t have to replace it again for about 50 or so years. This will save the district money in the long run.”
The district originally estimated $1.5 million for the new roofing, flashing and gutters at Riverbend and for upgrades on the roofing at Robertsville and Zitzman Elementary and the Pacific High School. The money is projected to come out of the $11,750,000 it is receiving from the resale of existing bonds via Prop K.
However, the board ultimately ended up budgeting $1.6 million during the April 19 school board meeting as the members decided to go with aluminum rather that steel; which is around $100,000 more.
“The board decided to use .040 Standing Seam Aluminum because it provides better ventilation and will not rust,” Delmain said. “This will end up saving money overall.”
In addition, the board also approved the re-caulking and sealing of joints at PHS in the gymnasium and to put a seal coating on the roof at Robertsville. The total cost of all the work is expected to be a little more than $1.7 million when finished.
“The roof replacement met the budget, however, we decided to do a few additional things that needed to be done,” Delmain said. “This was not originally budgeted for, however, the district would end up paying for it in the future, so they figured now is the best time since the crews are already doing work on the structure.”
This however, worries new board member Matt Trower, who at the April 19 school board meeting stated he was “concerned that the district was coming in so far over budget on the first use of Prop K.” He shared that he understood that Riverbend needs a new roof and that the district needs to do it correctly, however, he wants the board to be conscious about how it uses the money going forward.
Delmain said that issues with the roof are a rarity that is not normally seen. Unfortunately the roof is bad and the district has to repair it.
“The district runs a tight ship, so the fact that this happened is not anyone’s fault,” he said. “However, the board is doing what needs to be done to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
After bidding out the project, Lakeside Roofing and St. Louis Metal were selected as the contractors. Crews started the first week of June and are expected to be finished before school resumes mid-August.
“Crews are now working on the main part of the roof so that if they are not done by time school starts, they will be working on areas (i.e. locker rooms) that will not impair the learning processes,” Delmain said.
Riverbend is the last structure to receive roofing upgrades within the district.