School board studies roofs and gym floors

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

By Karen Hall


School board members invited their "roof man," Kevin Turner of Stephen Ward & Associates Inc., to talk to them again when the maintenance committee met Monday night.

They were curious to find out how much he would do for them if his company were hired to deal with the school roofs.

"I am your agent," Turner assured board members. If there is a problem, he said, he would call the manufacturer or the contractor. The company works for more than 50 school boards.

"Do you guarantee warranties will be enforced?" asked committee chairman Randy Perryman.

"Yes, sir," said Turner.

"What about taking legal action?" Perryman continued.

"We can do that too," Turner said. He went on to explain there would be a construction bond, so even if a company hired to work on a roof goes out of business, the school board won't have to pay more than they contracted for.

"Are you all bonded too?" asked board member Harvey Jones Jr.

"Yes, we have professional liability insurance," Turner said.

"Can you prioritize the roofs?" asked budget committee chairman Donnie Moses, referring to the list of roofs that need replacement -- at a total cost of $549,000 -- that Turner gave the board earlier this month. Essential repairs to other roofs this year are projected to cost $177,000.

"Now I'm going to make you mad," said Turner. "They all need to be done! You need to be roofing today," though he admitted they could "wait a little while" on Marshall Elementary School.

"Maintenance is not roofing," Turner pointed out. "It is making the roofs live." He has already taken Deputy Director Jacob Sorrells up on a roof and showed him how to spot damaged places where a leak will start.

"You should do that after every major storm," he said. "Employ a good roofing contractor that you trust for your maintenance. Around Nov. 1, you need to be sure the gutters are clear.

"Have I bored you?" asked Turner.

"You've raised my blood pressure," exclaimed Director of Schools Jackie Abernathy.

"What have we spent on roofs in the last 10 years?" asked Moses.

The answer was "not a lot," though Budget Director Janet Wiles pointed out they had spent some money.

The roof of one part of the Central Office, formerly Jones School, is so bad Abernathy was recently summoned to the building during a storm because the alarms were going off. She found water pouring into a room at the north end of the building.

After the meeting, she took board members on a walk to see the damage. In a room not currently in use, ceiling tiles are missing, broken, and water stained. Outside, Abernathy said, the roof has been covered with a tarp, but, of course, this is not a longterm solution.

"Would demolition be cheaper than replacing the roof?" asked board member Barbara Kennedy.

"It may not be in your best interest to put a 20-year roof on that part of the building," admitted Turner. He also can't be certain there is no asbestos in the building. His inspection process did not include cutting into roofs to check for asbestos, but he said the building most likely to contain it was Central Office, due to its age.

After Turner left, the discussion turned to the state of the gym floors in the schools. Sorrells said he had Bruce Gleneck, president of Sports Floors Inc. of Memphis, look at all the gym floors with him and make recommendations.

He explained the floors need to be "re-screened" every year, which he likened to waxing a car, and this costs about $3,000.

Every 10 years, the floors need to be sanded down and refinished, and this costs $15,000 or more.

"He told me you should get 40 to 60 years out of every floor," Sorrells said. A complete new floor costs around $140,000.

The gym floor at Forrest, which some people said had to be replaced because of protruding nail heads, can be fixed.

"There is life in that floor yet," said Sorrells, adding that Gleneck cut a sample from the floor to check how much wood was left, and found the nails had been mis-placed during installation. Sports Floors Inc. could fix the Forrest floor, Sorrells said.

"He wants to sell us a new floor," Sorrells said, "But he'll take our business any way he can get it."

"Our gym floors need to be on a rotation," said board member Kristin Gold.

"We need to take a hard look at them and get on a schedule," agreed Sorrells.

"Can you develop a plan?" asked chairman Mike Keny.

"Sure," Sorrells answered.

"Jacob will check and prioritize all the floors," said Abernathy. "But we've got to get the roofs done first."

In the budget committee meeting which immediately followed, board members discussed where to find money for roofing.

Between what's left from the money budgeted for Hydrostop coating and what's left in capital outlay, Moses said, "We could roll into half a million pretty quick. We could certainly start doing something."

"We'd have to go to the Commission if we take it out of fund balance," Abernathy said.

"We didn't spend it before, and it went into fund balance," said Moses. "We have to tell them we need it now."