Schoolcraft School Board Approves Maintenance Projects

By Jef Rietsma

Schoolcraft Community Schools moved a step closer to addressing three critical building needs, following action at the district’s Oct. 13 meeting.

A request for proposals regarding the flat portion of the elementary school’s roof and the building’s boilers was sought by the board of education.

Meanwhile, the seven-member panel agreed to proceed with correcting a heating flaw impacting a cluster of classrooms at the middle school. A request for proposals was not necessary for the matter as its expense is anticipated to be about $15,000 which is below the district’s threshold for requiring RFPs.

Board members agreed that the roof issue at the first- through fifth-grade building should be addressed before winter.

James Weiss, director of facilities and technology, said a rough estimate to fix the portion over the school office and its horseshoe-shaped hallway, considered the most-compromised portions of the roof, is about $50,000. The RFP, a solicitation for a general cost estimate from industry professionals, will help board members decide whether to proceed with the task sooner instead of later, they said.

The current roof dates to 1989, Weiss said.

“The worst (area) is over the office. That’s where we typically see the most leaking and not enough air, and that creates extra issues,” he said. “The flat roof can be scanned to know where there are issues underneath the membrane that might need to be replaced.”

Weiss said the project would take up to three weeks and that the proposed work would include a 15-year warranty.

The greater expense, Weiss said, will come with replacing the two boilers. The oldest of the two was installed in 1968 and is nearing the end of its functionality. He estimated the replacement cost to be about $338,000 which would include pumps, plumbing, tear-out, ventilation, installation and new piping.

The tradeoff, however, will be improved energy efficiency thanks to a replacement system that will be smaller but more effective than the current system. “It can heat and distribute the hot water more efficiently,” he said.

Weiss said the roof and the boilers would be bid separately and kept as two separate projects. An additional, smaller project would include the addition of a two-stage, water-softener system.

Weiss then elaborated on the middle school problem, which impacts four classrooms at the east end of the building. Added in 1986, the classrooms receive insufficient warmth due to an ineffective heating loop.

Fixing the problem will require the classrooms to temporarily relocate while work to correct the problem is performed, board president Mike Rochholz said. Money to cover the various projects would come from the district’s general fund through its fund equity. Board member David Krum said the projects are no-nonsense expenditures that need to be addressed.

Board member Matt DeVoe said he has concerns about the amount of money the district is likely to spend on the corrections. Still, he said the district is in a better place financially now than it was four years ago. Consequently, he said he has less trepidation about moving forward and is OK with spending money to fund such critical needs.

During an audit report earlier in the meeting, Christy Watson of Portage-based Yeo and Yeo CPAs and Business Consultants, said the district has general-fund revenue of $9.6 million. The figure is $300,000 more than the previous year, she said. Watson said the district has gotten more conservative with its spending and has shown it allocates for needs and not wants. She rendered an unqualified opinion of the district’s finances and noted that strong internal audit controls are in place.

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