Democrat File Photo
A VIEW OF the roof on the 1938 portion of the Sullivan West Jeffersonville campus.
Voters to have say in SW Jeff roof repair
By Dan Hust
JEFFERSONVILLE Sullivan West voters will be asked on October 20 to choose whether or not to undertake the largest repair the Jeffersonville school’s 71-year-old roof has ever seen.
On Thursday, the SW school board unanimously approved two resolutions designed to ready the district for the $1.6 million job.
One was to authorize a districtwide vote on October 20 between noon and 9 p.m., giving the public a chance to decide whether or not to take up to $1.6 million out of the capital reserve fund to repair the roof.
The other was to transfer $2 million of the undesignated fund balance (the surplus) to the capital reserve fund, which does not require a public vote.
SW Superintendent Ken Hilton said Friday that district leaders are relieved that the cost of repair will be far under the originally estimated $4 million to replace the 1938 building’s roof.
And the $1.6 million tab may not be paid entirely by taxpayers.
“We’re pretty sure we’re going to get $150,000 in EXCEL aid [from the state],” Hilton explained, and the district is applying for some historic preservation grants, as the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The superintendent is hoping the taxpayers will eventually have to shoulder less than $900,000 though since it’s coming out of funds already set aside, there will be no accompanying tax increase either way.
Nevertheless, “it’s going to be a pretty extensive job,” Hilton said.
All the wood on the roof including decorative railings and the clocktower of the Colonial Williamsburg-style structure will be repainted and/or restored.
The dormers and windows will receive similar treatment, and there will be “a lot of glass replacement,” said Hilton.
Some, but not all, of the slate tiles that serve as shingles will be replaced, especially around the lower sections of the roof.
“We’re going to have to rip most of the copper lining off the gutters all around the building,” Hilton added, and the flashing and the eaves will be replaced, as well.
All of the work will have to conform not only to NYS Education Department rules but the even stricter requirements of the State Historic Preservation Office, which is demanding the district use materials as faithful to the originals as possible.
Coupled with the time-consuming bidding process, work on the roof may not begin until the spring or summer of 2011 and only if voters give the OK this October.
Students will not be displaced during the work, said Hilton, but it may straddle the end of one school year and the beginning of the next.
The district is not pursuing remuneration from the firms that conducted renovations work on the roof less than a decade ago as part of SW’s merger, even though paint from that work is now peeling.
“We certainly found some sloppy work,” Hilton confirmed.
He promised that won’t be repeated, and some of the cheaper tiles used in those renovations will now be replaced by slate from the same quarries as the original tiles.
“We are using the very best Vermont slate,” he said.
And the roof will no longer be neglected for years at a time.
“We will implement an annual maintenance regimen,” Hilton explained.