District 15 school board approves roof replacements, lease-purchase loan

There will be a lot of roofs getting replaced in St. Francis School District 15 this summer.

The board voted 4-3 at its March 26 to sell lease-purchase finance certificates to pay for the $922,850 project.

School Board Chairwoman Marsha Van Denburgh and Boardmembers Suzanne Erkel and Matt Rustad voted against the sale of the certificates. Only Van Denburgh and Rustad voted against the roof projects.

Roofs will be replaced at the high school, St. Francis Middle School, the Lifelong Learning Center (LLC) and Sandhill Center for the Arts.

Most of the roof sections being replaced were installed in 1995 and were single ply roofs with 10-year warranties, said Chris Wirz, district maintenance program supervisor.

They were not quality roofs, but the district chose them because of budget constraints, he said.

The new roofs will come with 30-year warranties and Wirz expects the average life span to be between 40-45 years.

“The three roof sections at the high school to be replaced are in bad condition with rips,” Wirz said.

The roof had to be repaired four times last year, he said.

At the middle school, the roof on the west side of the building over the gym and home economics area will be replaced.

Last year, the district had to repair it six times, Wirz said.

The LLC roof had to be repaired four times last year.

“Once the patches are on, they only last for five to six years, but it is like putting a Band-Aid on it,” Wirz said.

In Bethel, the Sandhill roof had to be repaired five times.

“The roof was installed in 1984 and it had a 15-year warranty,” Wirz said.

Once this roofing project is done, it should be 12 to 16 years before the district has to consider another roofing project, he said.

Erkel wanted to know why all of the roofs had to be done at once.

“Borrowing the money is fiscally irresponsible,” she said.

The district should budget to pay for the projects as they happen, Erkel said.

With the costs of petroleum products and construction projects increasing, borrowing the money now will allow the district get the roofs done at today’s prices, said Superintendent Ed Saxton.

Since the district did last year’s roofing project, the costs have increased 11.4 percent, said Mae Hawkins, business services directors.

Historically, costs increase after April 1 and construction costs could potentially increase 15 percent a year as petroleum products continue to go up in price, she said.

The money, which is being borrowed at an interest rate of under 3 percent, will be paid back using the operating capital funds the district receives each year from the state, and it will be paid back in five years, Hawkins said.

“It makes more financial sense to do these projects now,” Wirz said.

Tammy Sakry is at [email protected]