LISBON - In need of a new roof and many other renovations to maintain South Side Middle School, the Columbiana Board of Education voted Tuesday to begin the process to again ask voters for a $4 million bond issue.
"We understand nobody wants additional taxes," Superintendent Donald Mook said after the meeting, "but this is an asset and the community wants to salvage it."
A presentation was made by Tom Kurilla of TeamART LLC, which looked at the condition of the roof and its deficiencies. Kurilla pointed out the roof is blistering, ridging and has areas which show the asphalt was most likely overheated when it was applied.
Of the roof's 10 sections, Kurilla said five most likely need assistance even to make it through this upcoming winter.
There were also problems found with the flashing and exterior walls. Board members questioned how much damage has been caused by leaks in the roof, but Kurilla said at this point no study has been done on the structure under the roof.
"The roof represents only 2 percent of the structure, but it covers the other 98 percent of the structure," Kurilla said.
Kurilla said in his opinion the roof was never designed to last.
"The roof was designed to fail," Kurilla said. "There is no slope to drain it and the asphalt was overheated when it was installed."
In August voters rejected a $4 million bond issue, also for the middle school. Mook said after the meeting, if the voters chose not to approve it and the district wants to save the middle school building, then the board would have to spend at least $500,000 out of the general fund just to repair it properly.
Kurilla estimated a roof would cost between $500,000 and $2.5 million depending on how the board wanted to fix the problems. The higher number would be a metal roof with a slope added.
Mook said without a bond issue, the board would be faced with looking at other ways to cut the general fund. Currently, the district has a $9 million annual budget and a $2 million carryover balance. However, Mook said the five-year forecast projects that carryover balance will be gone within the next two and a half years.
Additionally, Mook said there are a lot of unknown expenses coming for schools, including health care changes which could force the board to start paying for health care for more of the district's employees.
If the board has to spend $500,000 from the general fund on the roof, Mook said the board would have to start looking at other areas to cut. Those could include inclusion model classrooms where special education teachers are available to assist in the regular classroom, elimination of scheduling blocks, staff cuts and busing.
"Everythings on the table," Mook said. "We would have to look at how to cut down a budget that's very skeleton already."
The August bond issue would have cost the owner of a $50,000 home and additional $18 in taxes. The board will send the request to the county auditor's office in order to determine if the same $4 million bond issue would still cost the same.