Parkview and Brodhead schools getting new roofs
When your roof leaks, you fix it.
When the school roof leaks, the school board holds a referendum.
When the referendum fails, the roof gets fixed anyway.
At least that’s the case in the Parkview and Brodhead school districts this year.
Both districts asked voters in April for money for maintenance projects, but both referendums failed. In Brodhead, it was the second failed referendum after one in February.
But contractors are pounding nails in both districts to get the new roofs done by the time school starts. Here’s how they’re doing it:
The roof on the junior/senior high school leaked in several places when snow and ice melted and sometimes during heavy rains, Superintendent Steve Lutzke said.
When voters weren’t willing to invest additional money to replace the roof and other maintenance upgrades around the district, Lutzke said the school board and administration discussed other options.
“The other caveat was the federal stimulus dollars available now to do building projects,” he said. “Based on the fact the roof is in such poor shape and the high likelihood of federal money to help pay for it, the board authorized to go ahead with bids to find out what the roof project would cost.”
The lowest and winning bid was about $797,000 from HC Anderson of Rockton, Ill. The roof has a 25-year warranty.
The district applied for and received an interest-free federal loan for $575,000. The district will take out a 15-year loan to cover the remaining expense, but an interest rate has not been locked in, Lutzke said. Rates are running at 2 to 3.5 percent, he said, which should put annual payments at $50,000 to $58,000.
The district anticipates saving $10,000 annually through a Focus on Energy rebate and utility savings as a result of better insulation, he said. The project will not increase taxes because the $40,000 to $48,000 annual payment will fit in the existing budget, he said.
“While it was a hard decision for us—we understand taxpayers said they don’t want to support this project at this time—we still felt we needed to get the project done,” he said.
Replacing the junior/senior high school roof was only one part of two referendum questions that failed in April. The first referendum asked voters to exceed the state revenue cap by $2.4 million over four years for its operating budget and technology upgrades. The second referendum asked to borrow $2.8 million over 20 years to rebuild roofs on the junior/senior high and Footville elementary, upgrade buildings to be more energy efficient and renovate bathrooms to meet handicapped accessibility standards.
After the referendums failed, the district went forward with planned cuts of about $499,000 to balance the budget. But as figures came in, the deficit was only $466,000, Lutzke said. The extra $33,000 will be used to help make loan payments for the roof work instead of restoring one of the cuts, he said.
The Brodhead School District is financing its high school roof project through a 10-year loan with an interest rate of about 3.75 percent from the Bank of Brodhead, Superintendent Chuck Deery said.
That puts the payments in line with the $70,000 the school board included in the budget to be spent on the roof regardless of the referendum’s outcome, he said.
“We knew it had to happen,” he said.
After voters in April rejected a three-year, $1.76 million referendum, the school board made budget cuts totaling about $300,000.
The school board went to referendum hoping to borrow money for the roof and other projects outside the revenue cap. Because the referendum failed, payments on the loan must be budgeted inside the revenue cap.
No stimulus funds are being used on the project, but Deery said there’s a chance unspent money from other districts would be available in fall.
HC Anderson of Rockton, Ill., also had the winning and lowest bid at about $516,000, which was a little less than the district budgeted, he said.
The membrane roof has a 25-year warranty, he said. It is replacing the original roof on the 15-year-old high school.
“As they took the roof off, it became more apparent it definitely (was) in need of a new roof,” he said. “There was some concern in the community that it really wasn’t that bad. It was as bad—or worse—when they got there and started taking it apart.”
A couple problems have arisen during construction: leaking caused damage to some ceiling tiles and electrical problems started when workers screwed into conduits. Deery said the district still is negotiating with the contractor over who will pay for the problems.