Janesville72°

Panel puts off Janesville school roof repair

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
May 20, 2011
— The roof at Jackson Elementary School hasn’t had any major leaks—yet.

The 21-year-old covering is nearing the end of its usable life, however, and district officials would like to replace it soon. But school budget troubles might keep it from being replaced in the coming year.


The roof is one of several maintenance projects the school board is considering for cuts in the coming year’s budget.


The board has made most of the cuts needed to fill a projected $13.4 million budget hole. Maintenance is one of the last decisions needed to balance the budget.


The projects slated for cuts would cost $1.16 million. Officials estimate the roof would cost about $410,000.


The rubber roof membrane at Jackson is shrinking away from where it’s attached around the edges. Water pools in some areas. Weeds and moss grow in joints where dirt collects.


The roof has been patched several times, and more patches will be needed. Another spot where the membrane had torn was discovered when district officials toured the roof Thursday.


District maintenance supervisor Dave Leeder said he’d have a crew on the roof today to get it patched.


“I can’t forecast what’s going to happen,” Leeder said when asked if the roof can last a year or two more. “I don’t think we’re going to have a big roof failure, by any means.”


Leeder, district chief financial officer Keith Pennington and school board member Greg Ardrey escorted a Gazette reporter and photographer around the roof Thursday. That evening, Ardrey called to order a meeting of the school board’s finance/buildings and grounds committee.


The membrane tears can be patched, Leeder told the committee. “However, I think we really need to take a serious look at this roof.”


Ardrey and board members Karl Dommershausen and Peter D. Severson decided the roof could wait.


They voted to recommend to the full board that up to $15,000 be spent on engineering work needed before the roof can be replaced.


“I’m comfortable putting it off a little bit, but I would not want to put it off for a long time,” Dommershausen said.


In any case, it would be unlikely the district could get the project planned, bid out and completed this summer anyway, Ardrey said.


The committee voted to recommend that the board restore about $527,000 worth of projects but retain about $635,000 in cuts.


If the full board agrees when it meets Tuesday, then things such as bleacher inspection and repair, preventive boiler maintenance and brick tuck-pointing will be done.


Left out would be a list that includes the Jackson roof, replacing worn carpet at Edison and Marshall middle schools, and replacing the main-entrance doors at Edison, which Leeder said are badly deteriorated.


“Everything would be nice (to do), but we’ve got to say ‘no’ at some point,” Severson said.


The committee did not consider other items that are on the district’s five-year maintenance plan. Those include replacing the parking lot at Jackson, blacktop repair districtwide, fence repair or replacement at the high schools and at Jackson and Adams schools, tennis court repair at Marshall, lighting replacement at Edison, and ceiling-tile replacement districtwide.


Dommershausen suggested the district borrow money for capital projects such as the Jackson roof as part of a future long-range plan. However, he doesn’t want a referendum on such borrowing.


“I think it would be shot down,” Dommershausen said.



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