Cumberland School Board Votes To Fund New Elementary Roof

Published 12:15 pm Tuesday, April 28, 2015

CUMBERLAND — Santa has his fingers crossed in hopes of a smooth landing on a new Cumberland County Elementary School roof this Christmas.

The plan, as it stands, is for the school board to pay $150,000 of the $450,000 roof while the County pays the remainder of the funds.

In a meeting on April 22, the school board identified where cuts could be made to front the remaining $150,000 of the cost. School Superintendent Dr. Amy Griffin outlined the specific areas in which costs were cut to fund the roof.

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These cuts included a proposed Computer Science faculty position, $26,463 in utilities, $21,408 in instructional costs, $12,592 in technology costs, $7,000 in school bus supplies, $3,545.99 in equipment supplies, and $19,500 in transportation costs (the school budget was prepared when gas prices were higher and they now hope to re-bid for lower total gas costs for buses).

At a board of supervisors meeting on April 14, District Three representative Kevin Ingle asked whether the school board would rather carry over the roof project for another year in order to fund other staffing needs or go ahead with the planned investment in the roof.

“Our recommendation is to use the money for the roof this summer because the issue is the roof is leaking,” stated Dr. Griffin. “Do I think the roof is going to cave in? No, but I have grave concerns about the ceiling tiles caving in, though, because they collect the water. It really does need to be repaired; it’s a safety issue.”

The school board voiced its concerns regarding the board of supervisors’ ultimate decision to fund the roof. School board member Dr. Christine Ross stated that her “concern is are they just looking at the bottom dollar and saying ‘this is the cheapest one’ without completely understanding what’s on those bid papers? What is contained in those documents that makes one bid lower than the others? What is the guarantee, what is the warranty?”

Dr. Ross expressed that the bids were placed the evening before the supervisors’ meeting took place and there would not have been enough time for the board of supervisors to read the proposals beforehand, which could have led to an uniformed decision.

Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Chip Jones told Dr. Ross, “I am very comfortable with the warranties that were presented and with the company that was proposed to be awarded the project. It’s a 30-year warranty on the materials, which is at no cost to the County. […] There is a two- to three-year warranty on the installation also.”

Jones also made the school board aware that the warranties are contingent on the proper care and maintenance of the roof, and he believes preparatory work can be done on the roof prior to materials arriving in order to expedite the project.

Construction on the leaking roof, which is currently covered with rubber and rock, will need to begin as soon as students are released on summer break in order to be completed before the students return the beginning of August.

With trepidations assuaged, a clear plan for their part of the funding, and a doable time frame for the project, the school board voted in favor of funding $150,000 exclusively toward the reparation of the Cumberland County Elementary School roof.

The school board is expected to make final adjustments to their budget at a special-called meeting on May 6. The Board of Supervisors is expected to take action regarding the schools’ final budget—and whether or not it will assist with the remainder of the funds for the roof project—at its May 12 meeting.