YORK RUN — The Albert Gallatin Area School Board opted at its October meeting to not commence with the process of replacing the roof of Smithfield Elementary School, an issue that has become the crux of school consolidation talks in the district.
A motion made Wednesday to add an item to the meeting agenda that called for the district to obtain roofing specifications for a potential roof replacement at the elementary school was not met with board support.
At a board work session held Monday, a representative for The Garland Co. Inc., which has developed a roof management plan for the district, said he recommends a roof replacement at Smithfield and advised the board move forward with obtaining specifications for the project by December to give the district the optimum time frame for bidding the project for summer construction.
Sam Roberts, the Garland representative, said the project will likely cost the district between $765,000 and $825,000.
The motion to add the item to the agenda failed 5-4.
School directors Ed Colebank, Michael Dunham, Paul Dunham, David Howard and Janet Swaney voted against the motion. Carla Franks, Charity Grimm Krupa, Betty Moser and Ryan Porupski voted in support.
“This is a large sum of money. I think that we need to make sure that we’ve done our due diligence as far as spending in the neighborhood of $1 million,” said Michael Dunham.
Superintendent Chris Pegg said at the work session that Smithfield Elementary is also in need of a boiler replacement, which will cost in excess of $225,000.
Krupa, who made the motion, referred to a comment made Monday by Roberts that the board would have a 90-day window during the bidding process to decide whether it wants to further pursue the project by excepting a bid.
“This is getting the ball moving in the right direction. Just because we’re going this route doesn’t mean we definitively have to do (the project),” said Krupa.
The roof at Smithfield has become a focal point in a conversation on consolidation for the cash-strapped district as it considers ways to cut costs.
Michael Dunham said at the work session that district administration should bring recommendations to the board via a district-wide building usage plan before the board considers committing a large amount of money for capital improvements.
Swaney, board president, said at the same meeting that the district needs to consider closing more than one school to ensure financial survival.
The board asked administration to update a 2010 feasibility study of the district.
Roberts said the Smithfield roof is a top priority in the district’s roof management plan due to excessive leaking over the last three to five years. A recent inspection found ponding water, fastener issues and seam and membrane splits.
Business manager Vince Belczyk said the project could be financed by refinancing debt and floating a bond.