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Study finds majority of Lindbergh's roofs need to be replaced


September 21, 2005 - By LAURA UHLMANSIEK

Staff Reporter

Roofs on a majority of Lindbergh School District buildings need to be replaced within the next few years, a study has found.

Lindbergh Board of Education members last week reviewed the roof study, the first part of an evaluation of the school district's capital needs. During a July 27 work session, board members tentatively agreed that administrators should take the initial steps toward seeking a no-tax-rate-increase bond issue to fund needed capital projects.

"There are a myriad of other things that are being contemplated, but not a single final determination has been made in terms of what types of things," said Karl Guyer, executive director of planning and development. "We're still in the very early phases at this time, but because roofs will represent a portion of it, it was critical to get an evaluation and assessment so that we have background to go forth."

The district hired Enviro-Tech Roof Consulting Services to assess the district's roofs. Of the 736,000 square feet of district roofs, Guyer said 22.4 percent is in critical condition and needs to be replaced as soon as possible, while 67.8 percent is slightly less critical and can be replaced over a longer period of time. The remaining roof area is in good condition and will not need to be replaced.

Most of the roofs on district buildings were installed in the late 1980s, Guyer said, and the district has been paying to repair some of the roofs that are leaking.

"Unfortunately, they are all very close to their life cycle at this point, so we're having to look at a pretty comprehensive re-placement at this point, whether it's spread over two years or three years or possibly four, but more likely three," Guyer said at the Sept. 13 board meeting.

Guyer told the Call that he estimates the cost to replace the roofs will range from $8 million to $10 million, but that is a rough preliminary estimate.

"They have not had any architectural or construction manager input," Guyer said.

Guyer said he also is assessing other areas that may need repair, which the board will have to take into consideration for a no-tax-rate increase bond issue.

"We're also starting to look at other issues districtwide — whether there's a curriculum need that evolves into a building change, other repair related areas, whether it's doors, or interior ceilings — general capital type of projects," Guyer said.

If board members decide to pursue a no-tax-rate increase bond issue, voters may see the proposal on the April or November ballot next year. The board will have to decide whether to place the measure on the April ballot by Jan. 24.

If approved by four-sevenths majority of voters, the no-tax-rate increase bond issue would not increase the debt service tax rate, but instead would extend the tax rate for an as-yet undetermined period of time.

At this point, neither the amount of funding available nor the scope of work have been determined.

This could be the second no-tax-rate-increase bond issue. The first, Proposition R "Responsible Renovation" measure, was approved by voters in April 2002. The $9.5 million bond issue addressed projects that were not included in the district's classroom-focused 1995 $25 million bond issue, also named Proposition R.

The 2000 bond issue extended the district's debt-service tax rate — then 26 cents per $100 of assessed valuation — from 2016 to 2020.

The district's current debt service tax rate is 38 cents per $100 of assessed valuation and has remained unchanged since 2003, when it increased 10 cents after district voters approved Proposition 4, a $14.1 million bond issue designed to address safety issues at all of the district's schools.

Board President Mark Rudoff asked whether it was possible to replace the roofs on an individual basis using operations funding instead of replacing all the roofs at once as a capital project requiring debt service funds.

"It's a great debate, and I'm sure people can argue on both sides of that," said Pat Lanane, assistant superintendent for fi-nance. "But, we have maintained the position that roofs are a capital expense. We'll keep it on the capital side and by doing so, it probably allows for the operational side a little bit more flexibility in terms of the dollars that are available for things like the literacy coach that we saw tonight."

Superintendent James Sandfort said, "School districts never have sufficient operating money to put roofs on the agenda first because generally you end up spending it on curriculum instruction issues, ongoing operational issues so that when a roof comes up that needs major replacement, they say, well, let's just try to repair it, wait for the next bond issue, and then take it all off and spend that kind of money.

"But they never have the luxury of the kind of choices that you're talking about because when push gets to shove, roofs get shoved back and all the other expenses get addressed first,'' he added.

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