Martha’s Vineyard high school committee okays $2.65 million roof

Repairs to the high school's heating, venting, and air conditioning system will begin soon. – MV Times file photo

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) school committee voted unanimously Monday night to approve a motion to bond up to $2.65 million to reconstruct and repair the school roof. That figure represents an increase of $750,000 from a previous estimate of $1.9 million made by Roof Consulting Services (RCS) in a report issued in June 2012.

As school business administrator Amy Tierney explained to the school committee, the cost escalation is based on the results of a more recent and thorough roof analysis done by Russo Barr Associates. The roofing engineering firm was awarded a bid last month to design the replacement roof and draw up the bid specifications and engineering plans for the roof project.

“Not only did they do the bid specs for us, but they went through and analyzed the whole roof again, and found some other things that weren’t cited in the consultant’s report,” Ms. Tierney said. “And they have now come in with an estimated construction price that is higher than we thought it would be.”

In light of the new estimate, she said the school committee would need to revisit the issue of how much to bond. The committee had previously voted on January 7 to approve spending an estimated $1.9 million to replace the school’s entire roof this summer.

That figure included a 15 percent contingency fee to cover any added insulation or moisture costs. The new estimate from Russo Barr also includes a 15 percent contingency fee.

“There were a number of things that came up during the study, different code violations, different hazardous materials they found, and since it’s been almost a year since the last time everything was looked at, there was more deterioration,” Ms. Tierney said. “This $2.65 million covers the entire roof project, except for one area that was recently done that is still under warranty, so about 90 percent of the roof would be done.”

School committee member Roxanne Ackerman of Aquinnah said she found the amount of the increase shocking and would have liked more time to look at the report before voting Monday night.

Ms. Tierney explained that the roof bond vote had already been put on Monday night’s agenda because of the tight timeline involved, in order to get the project bonded and a construct contract awarded to get it done this summer. However, she only received the report from Russo Barr with the new cost estimate last Friday.

In a phone conversation with The Times, Ms. Tierney said on Tuesday she sent certified letters to town selectmen boards informing them of the high school district’s decision to bond the roof project and why. If a town wishes to contest the decision, the issue must be put to voters at a special town meeting within 60 days, she said.

In the meantime, Ms. Tierney is getting ready to solicit bids for the contract, which will come in at the end of May. At the end of the 60 days, if none of the towns contest the bond, she said she would have the authority to hire a contractor after June 2. If bids come in for less than the estimate, the school district would borrow less, superintendent of schools James Weiss added.

The high school has been dealing with increasing and worsening roof leaks throughout the building for the past several years. The majority of the current roof has been in place 18 years and other portions for 25, according to building and ground manager Gregory Hines.

About a year ago the school committee’s land use subcommittee (LUS) hired RCS, which conducted a feasibility study that concluded the roof is at the end of its useful life. RCS came up with several options for its replacement, which varied in cost according to lengths of warranties and other factors.

Building and ground manager Gregory Hines pointed out that, based on the new cost estimate, the entire roof could not be done at the same time if the project went forward using only the $1.9 million already approved. To finish it in phases would likely cost more money, he added.

In anticipation of getting a bond for the roof project, Ms. Tierney and the high school administration came up with a budgeting plan last fall to include interest payments in the school’s fiscal year 2014 (FY14) budget, based on an estimated $1.9 million project.

Although the interest payments on $2.65 million will be higher, there is enough money in the budget to cover them, Ms. Tierney said. Both principal and interest payments will be built into the FY15 budget, at which time debt payments for the building addition will end.

In other business, Ms. Tierney reported that the state certified $633,351 in excess and deficiency funds for FY12. Since the amount is not in excess of five percent of the operating budget, no money will be returned to the towns to reduce the current fiscal year’s assessment.

The school committee approved a final draft of an immunization policy and a first draft of a policy for managing life-threatening allergies. In keeping with its annual reorganization, the committee voted to approve Colleen McAndrews of Tisbury as its new chairman and Lisa Regan of Oak Bluffs as the vice chairman.

The student spotlight this month featured senior Isabella Hazell-El-Deiry, who was selected to serve as a member of the Governor’s Statewide Youth Council for Dukes County.