WHITMAN – Progress on the roof and windows repair project at Duval Elementary School and school district capital projects proposed for the May 7 Town Meeting were reviewed by the Buildings, Facilities and Capital Projects Committee on Thursday, March 1.
Representatives of project engineers Gale Associates — project manager Sam Moore and Ed Stewart — and the W-H Regional School District members met with the Buildings Committee in an effort to assess progress with the project design and budget and prioritize other capital projects. Gale was contracted a year ago to perform an evaluation on Duval to determine the cause of deterioration and leaks traced to the exterior wall systems in the school’s newer addition and areas where severe ice damming occurred during the winter of 2014-15.
“Because of the budgeting it is going to be extended over a multi-year period of time,” Stewart said. Moore updated the committee on the schedule and budgeting for phasing-in the project.
“We know we want to perform the construction work for the first phase over the summer,” Moore said. “These [budget] numbers are not hard numbers, it’s stuff that [Schools Business Director] Christine [Suckow] and Gale will be working on to refine the percentages.”
The project is estimated to cost a total of $1.1 million with $600,000 already appropriated by a Town Meeting appropriation.
“This is probably not the way to go into a project — with partial funding,” Town Administrator Frank Lynam said, noting he would be discussing the issue with Selectmen regarding a possible article at Town Meeting to fund the difference. “Initially, we thought we’d be doing an initial repair, evaluating it and then coming back, but it we’re all-in, then I think we have to look at how we fund [it].”
If the project is done in three phases, the first would remove all existing wall cladding and exterior insulating finish system (EIFS) on the second floor, replace windows and repair the low asphalt-shingled roof and sloped roof below it. Phases two and three would replace the upper roof areas.
“The question is, ‘Do we bid it out as one project and then look at, essentially, that single contractor or general contractor being contracted for three years?’ of course, sticking with the phasing plan,” Moore said.
Stewart said Gale has done multi-year contracts before, with a benefit being a single warranty in place. Inflation considerations for materials and labor would have to be factored in. A stipulation would have to be included that follow-up phases are subject to appropriation.
Building Inspector Robert Curran asked if the committee could specify the type of windows used in Phase I be used for subsequent phases if multiple contractors are used.
Stewart said the board could vote to require a proprietary product.
Leak tests will also be conducted during construction.
Committee member Dan Salvucci asked how the phased contract approach was taken.
“It’s three-phase because we asked them to do it,” Lynam said. “It’s not their preferred approach — it’s budget-driven.”
Backing up Phase I would be the repair of “active leaks” that are going on now.
“One of the biggest concerns we have right now is just the scheduling,” Moore said, especially centering on the 16 commercial-grade windows that have to be ordered to match existing windows, to be installed before school reopens in late August.
Lynam asked if any of the active leaks were located in the non-contracted area, below the lower roofline. School officials said they would know after the Friday, March 2 nor’easter and would be checking the building throughout the storm. Based on Gale’s study none have been found in that area so far.
Gale will be backing up its bid-phase services with submittal review, pre-construction meetings with the contractor and bi-weekly meetings during construction.
District officials were asked during the same meeting to prioritize the most important of more than 15 projects on their matrix at Whitman schools and about a dozen more at the high school flagged for possible action in 2018.
“We know we’re not going to be able to do all of them,” Lynam said.
In addition to the Duval roof, security upgrades to Conley and Duval schools; fire alarm and smoke detector replacement at Conley and Whitman Middle schools; updating security cameras at Duval and replacement of rooftop units at Whitman Middle all totaling between about $200,000 and $250,000.
“It is extraordinarily important for us to beef up that area of security so we can minimize the exposure in the schools because there’s a stop point,” Lynam said. “It’s our job to make sure our kids are safe.”
School Committee member Fred Small, who chairs the Facilities Subcommittee, said if Conley fire alarms could be replaced at about $55,000 and saved for parts to support the system at WMS, it could be a cost-effective solution to get through the year.
Facilities Director Ernest Sandland said the difference in new security cameras at Hanson’s Indian Head School last year is “phenomenal in what you can see.”
At the high school, Whitman’s 59.82 percent share of $210,000 in roadway repairs; $225,000 for resurfacing the outdoor track and $60,000 for security camera upgrades were cited as top priorities. A total of about $495,000 with Whitman’s share at $296,109.
“This is overwhelming,” Curran said of the complete matrix list. “In my opinion, you’ve got to take care of what you’ve got before it gets broke, but it’s kind of a lot.”
“We have to put it down somewhere,” Sandland said. “You’ve got to make the decision, but I think it’s up to us to identify what our needs are. … We’re in a tough spot because if we don’t identify [needs] people will come back and say, ‘You should have told us about this two years ago and we would have given you the money.’ We hear that all the time.”
“Or, ‘You don’t take care of it,’” Gilbert-Whitner agreed.