Regional high school committee approves $1.9 million roof project

The high school roof will be replaced. — File photo by Susan Safford

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) Committee on Monday night approved an estimated $1.9 million project to replace the school’s entire roof next summer as recommended by the land use subcommittee (LUS). That figure includes a 15 percent contingency fee to cover any added insulation or moisture costs, according to building and ground manager Greg Hines.

The high school has been dealing with leaks throughout the building for the past several years. Last year, the LUS hired a consultant who conducted a feasibility study of the roof, including an analysis of core samples. The study concluded that the roof is at the end of its useful life. The consultant came up with several options for the roof’s replacement, which varied in cost according to lengths of warranties and other factors, superintendent of schools James Weiss said.

School committee member Dan Cabot of West Tisbury asked whether the LUS had discussed the possibility of adding solar panels, since it would be a good opportunity, and probably cheaper, to install them when the roof is being replaced. School committee chairman Priscilla Sylvia, who also serves on the LUS, said no one had raised the topic of solar panels with the subcommittee and that she would hate for that issue to delay the roof replacement.

“There will never be an opportunity to do this any cheaper,” Mr. Cabot said. “If you someday decide you want solar panels on this building, it’s much harder to retrofit than to do it while you’re replacing the roof.

“We’re trying, on the design phase of the roof, to look at what would help us allow solar panels down the road,” Mr. Hines said. “We wouldn’t want to make it impossible to put solar panels on in the future, but it might slow things down if we decided to put in solar right now,” he added.

“There are people in the community who are interested in solar power who would be disappointed to think that you hadn’t explored it thoroughly,” Mr. Cabot said.

Ms. Sylvia said the committee would follow up on it.

“We’ve been talking about ways to get that to work, but it wouldn’t happen this summer,” Mr. Hines said.

With the exception of Mr. Cabot, the committee voted to approve the project.

MVRHS accounts manager Mark Friedman said design work for bid specifications is needed to start the project. He received estimates that it would cost about $55,000, which is not funded in the current budget.

Mr. Friedman said there is, however, about $45,000 left from $50,000 in excess and deficiency funds put into a roofing and flashing repair fund established about a year and a half ago by the school committee. The committee unanimously approved his request to use the money for the design work instead.

Mr. Friedman said that high school administrators took steps to begin budgeting for the roofing project in the fiscal year 2014 budget. There is a line item for $66,734.50 for interest only, based on the anticipated debt service for the project’s estimated cost, he told The Times in a follow-up phone call on Tuesday. In subsequent years the amount will be adjusted for principal and interest payments based on borrowing and bonding, he said.