Education committee hears about school roofs

Friday, April 4, 2014

By Karen Hall


They may have read about it in the Tribune, but the County Commission's education committee members got their first official look at the report on school roofs when they met Tuesday.

Director of Schools Jackie Abernathy, Deputy Director Jacob Sorrells, and four members of the school board were there, along with Kevin Turner of Stephen Ward & Associates who walked all over all the roofs and prepared the report.

"We have a roofing problem," said Abernathy, naming the schools where teachers know they have to place buckets under leaks when it rains. "So the board decided to get a consultant to look at the roofs and give us a plan."

"On the scale of one to 10, with 10 as the worst, you're about a seven," Turner said, as he began to take committee members through his report.

"You've got major expenditures facing you," he continued. "There are roofs that are leaking and causing structural and physical damage -- they need to be replaced right now." These include portions of the roofs at Central Office, Cornersville High School, Forrest, and Marshall Elementary School.

If the school roofs are maintained and replaced according to the plan, Turner said, in about 10 years time the system will be ahead of the problem and able to be proactive, instead of reacting as crises happen. His company has been working with Lincoln County for the last 10 years, and now this year their capital expenditure was zero because all the roofs are in good shape.

Committee members were shown pictures of various school roofs, and Turner explained what they were seeing: stopped up roof drains, grass growing on a roof, a roof deck visible through breaches in the covering, and so on.

The total expenditure which needs to be made right now, this year, on replacement and maintenance of roofs is $726,000.

"Good God," exclaimed committee member Anna Childress.

"We had no intention to come in here and try to break the county. We're tax payers too," said Abernathy. "What we need is a commitment from you to start a plan."

"It will cost us more money if we do nothing," said commissioner Mickey King. "I suggest let Steve Bates look at it. Get him over here and we might start putting something together." Bates, from Guardian Advisors, is the one who helped the county sell bonds to finance the school construction program.

"I think we need to do something," King added.

"Set the ball in motion to let Steve Bates do some research," Bowden agreed, and a motion to this effect was passed unanimously.

"Our bids (for the new construction) aren't in," Abernathy pointed out, noting if the bids come in at less than the amount borrowed, some of that money can be diverted to roofs. There is also about $120,000 from the money set aside for roofs that hasn't been spent yet, and some money in the capital outlay budget as well.

"I appreciate you all listening to us," said Abernathy as the meeting concluded.