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Meadowbrook roof work can’t wait, says board

January 28, 2011

The roof at Meadowbrook needs repair immediately, says the school board.

A decision on extensive work at Meadowbrook Farms Elementary School can wait awhile longer, the School Committee decided Tuesday night.
It also decided roof repairs couldn’t wait.

By a unanimous vote, the committee recommended spending up to $1.1 million in school bond savings for a new roof at the 42-year-old school, whose flooring and air circulation concerns have prompted calls for extensive renovations and even the closing of the building over the past several months.
While the School Building Committee earlier this month recommended spending nearly $4 million on a renovation project that would’ve involved on the flooring and HVAC in the school, School Committee members opted to wait for further reports from engineering and architectural consultants about the long-term viability of extensive repairs to the building.
With that in mind, Chairwoman Deidre Gifford proposed spending on the roof, while asking the building panel to commission a study on further options for work at Meadowbrook and renovations to the high school library.
“From all the discussions we’ve had, no matter what set of options we’ve had, the roof had to be done,” she said after the meeting, which also included a fiscal 2012 budget workshop, in the high school library.
Tuesday’s recommendation will be delivered, along with three previous ones, to the Town Council at a joint meeting Monday night as they debate how to spend unallocated funds from the $52 million school bond approved by voters in 2008. Estimated savings from lower-than-expected bids and increased state reimbursement now total $7,790,200.
The committee is also seeking permission from the council to spend $1,813,512 on roof replacement at the high school, $665,000 on technology upgrades at the high schools, and $225,264 on roof replacement at Frenchtown School.
While many Meadowbrook parents at the committee’s meeting last week pressed for the full renovation (“full fix”) supported by engineering consultant Paul Schreiner of Simpson Gumpertz & Hager instead of less costly options (“partial fix”), Gifford expressed frustration with the terms of the debate.
“I suggest we stop using the terms ‘full fix’ and ‘partial fix.’ To everybody in the room, that means something different,” she said.
The committee has been faced with the question of what to do at Meadowbrook since Schreiner’s six-month study of the building, completed in June, found disintegration of floor tiles caused by water vapor seeping from the ground, excessive humidity in the building due to air circulation problems, and roof leaks.
Committee Vice Chairman Robert Durant agreed with Gifford that the roof must be fixed before a final decision could be made on the floor.
“I’d feel much more comfortable knowing every option has been explored. I still don’t have a feeling on the SGH plan that it’s going to work,” he said.
Committee member Susan Records, though she wound up voting for the proposal to fix just the roof, favored the comprehensive SGH approach.
“I know there’s no guarantee, but no one gives a guarantee on moisture problems. I don’t know if there’s a company that would give us the guarantee we’re looking for,” she said.
Jonathan Winokur, project manager, also favored the larger-scale renovation, but said he would follow through on the request for further study, which he estimated would take two months.
The recommendations for further study include:
Meadowbrook: Potential flooring options as alternatives to full removal and replacement of asbestos tile; specifications and design for HVAC air balancing; assessment of the structural integrity and long-term viability of the building; design of selected alternatives; and estimates of flooring and HVAC options.
High school library: design and price options for improving space utilization, re-use of existing furnishings and fixtures, security system, additional computers and furniture, and lighting upgrades.
Winokur said he would also return to the state Department of Education for advice on possible changes to several items included in the bond proposal but which have not been designed, bid or had money committed to them. They include: Meadowbrook floor remediation and a wall in the cafetorium ($1,600,700); Eldredge Elementary School library and classroom improvements ($184,400), Hanaford Elementary School renovation and expansion of entrance and administrative areas and classroom improvements ($687,900), and Frenchtown sink installations in five classrooms ($165,200).

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