Columbia School Board closer to roof decision

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The Columbia School Board is one step closer to making a decision on what it will do regarding roof repairs or replacement at Columbia High School. 

The board once again talked with district architect Tim Kwiatkowski, who is managing director with FGM architects, at its May meeting about that proposed work. 

This time, Kwiatkowski updated the board on roof inspections his company had performed as part of its ongoing 10-year health/life safety survey. 

Kwiatkowski explained the roof at CHS is made up of several roof systems each of which “has its own little story.”

“Each of these roofs have different stages a little bit,” Kwiatkowski said. “Some could wait 2-3 years. Some could maybe wait a little longer. They’re all within a five-year window (of needing to be repaired or replaced).” 

A couple of those areas could have their warranties extended, one is in good condition for 2-3 years and would only need repairs, three would need to be replaced or repaired in 3-5 years and a few require immediate attention. 

The board discussed the pros and cons of either replacing the entire roof now or addressing each section of the roof individually, relying on input from Kwiatkowski, who pointed out he did not have a preference. 

“I’m not pushing you in any direction,” he said. “I just want you to hear all the perspectives.” 

Board members Tammy Hines and Greg Meyer were the strongest advocates for working on the roof sections individually, mainly because it would save money. 

“The ones that we have 3-5 years on, we need to budget for and figure out what our revenues are, and I know due to COVID we don’t know,” Hines argued while also noting the district is unsure what major expenses it has on the horizon until the 10-year survey is completed in a few weeks. 

After a question from board member Karen Anderson, Kwiatkowski said he did not think taking that approach would put anyone in the buildings at risk because the roofs Hines and Meyer said the district would wait to work on still look OK despite being near the end of their lives. 

Anderson and board member Greg O’Connor were more on the side of replacing the entire roof, with one of the main benefits being it would all then be one system with one company providing maintenance to it. 

“I think we need to make sure they’re all on the same cycle, and having one contractor to work with seems to make sense knowing you’re going to be money ahead in the long run,” O’Connor reasoned after Kwiatkowski noted there is a risk some of the sections could fail sooner, costing the district more money in repairs. 

Other arguments against a gradual approach included that old insulation might have degraded, gutter systems would be a hodgepodge and costs for repair or replacement will probably increase in future years. 

The board decided to hold a special meeting Thursday to allow time to gather more information on items like warranties on the various parts of the roof to make a more informed decision. 

It must decide soon what it wants to do if it wants to get this work done this summer, given how long it takes to order materials, gain approval for the project and accomplish the work. 

“We need to do something now or wait until next year because we still have some architect work that needs to be done besides the approving of things,” Columbia Interim Superintendent Victor Buehler told the board. 

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