Only three action items appeared on the agenda for the Broken Bow Board of Education’s December meeting, but one of those items was controversial enough to draw a large crowd - in fact, the crowd was large enough to warrant the board moving the meeting to the media center to accommodate the crowd.
The item garnering so much attention centered around the discussion, and ultimately decision, of a roof design for the North Park building project. During initial discussions last summer, both the board and community members voiced a desire for a pitched roof for the project. And board facilities chairman Ken Meyers says at that time the board was told that could be done.
However, upon closer examination of the existing building at North Park the architects and engineers now realize the stringers in the existing roof are not strong enough to support a pitched roof. In order to put that type of roof on the building, those stringers would require some major reinforcement - which in turn would pose a significant cost increase to what the board projected for the roof.
This finding left the board in somewhat of a quandary. Board members say they understand the community was expecting a pitched roof, but at the same time they have made a commitment to be fiscally responsible with the funds approved by the voters for the project. According to the architect, the pitched roof on the existing North Park building would cost nearly a half million dollars more than the option he recommends, and some board members, including Meyers, says they are not comfortable with that.
In a special board meeting Dec. 5, the public was informed of the options for the district for the roof project. A summary of the cost estimates between the two options was presented by architect Grant Craeger at that special board meeting. The standing seam roof would come in at a cost of $17 per square foot, plus $10 per square foot for structural enhancements and interior finishes, for a total on just the existing 25,000-square-foot building of $675,000. Meanwhile, the EPDM roof was quoted at $8 per square foot for a total of $200,000 for the existing building.
EPDM roofing is being widely used on office buildings, hospitals and schools across the country, both for its affordability and its durability, according to Craeger. He says the EPDM roof is also very repairable and can be easily maintained locally. The EPDM will NOT be a flat roof; it will have a height of 18 inches at the center. A gutter system would also be installed.
Meanwhile, the roof on the addition to North Park would be at least a 2-12 pitched standing seam roof, which would create about a 7-foot high peak. While this plan is not exactly the pitch the board had in mind, Superintendent Virginia Moon noted it is an acceptable minimum. This will allow the board to at least move forward with the bidding process.
Because of the difference in the roof design from the plans discussed prior to the bond election, some patrons suggested that extra money be refunded back to the tax payers. Meyers did not agree with that, saying he likes the idea of having that cushion just in case they encounter another unexpected hurdle along the way.
"I do appreciate all the phone calls and all the participation,” said Meyers as he addressed the audience Monday. “This was a big decision, we involved the whole board and we tried to keep open ears to what our community wants. The reason we made that choice was because of the half million dollars it was going to cost to get that higher pitch"
Board member John Evans added, “I hope this gives you confidence that we are watching this very close and are going to be extremely involved as a board, and are going to keep the public informed every step of the way."
There was a time set aside for public comments after the board had discussed the options and the reasons they believed going with the EPDM roof is the right choice. During this time questions were raised from those in attendance about the warranty on the EPDM roof, insurance coverage should a repair be needed and noise levels in the classroom. Meyers noted that both the architect and the construction manager are very confident in the EPDM design plan.
Meyers says the bottom line is, had the board opted to go ahead with the pitched roof at that price there would not have been enough money to complete the project they had planned.
"We're going to have to have some kind of cost containment on each issue. I don't want to get to the end of this project and not have the money for the things we want,” Evans added.
Several of those attending the meeting voiced their support of the decision to hold on to those extra funds, at least for now.
"It may look on the surface like you have $250,000 left over, but you never know what you're going to find when you tear that tar paper back. I would caution you to save that $250,000 for any unknowns,” said Loren Taylor.
Board member Matthew Haumont voiced disappointment in not knowing these cost details before now, but also said he is not opposed to keeping that extra money in case something else arises down the road.
"I think most tax payers who voted for this project are going to want to see you get the space we need for our kids rather than the pitched roof,” said audience member and parent Ryan Coleman. “To rebate that money back to the tax payers at this point would scare me greatly - you never know what else you're going to find."
The final motion the board voted on, as presented by Meyers, calls for the installation of a tapered EPDM roof on the existing North Park building, and a minimum 2-12 pitch standing seam roof on the new building, except on the multi-purpose room which is a pre-engineered structure. The motion passed 5-1, with Haumont voting no.
In the other action items before the board, BD Construction, Inc. of Kearney had their agreement and general conditions contract approved, but only by a 4-2 margin. Both Meyers and Evans voted no.
The conditions of the agreement would set a late fee of $500 per day, charged to BD Construction, for each day they would go past the July 15, 2013, deadline. The construction company plans to have the project completed by the end of June.
The one other action item involved the approval of the second reading of two policies; one regarding conflict of interest, and the other regarding compulsory attendance. Both passed unanimously.
The next regularly scheduled board meeting will be Jan. 16, 2012.