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Tech School needs new roof

Now working out how best to do it

TURNERS FALLS — The Franklin County Technical School Committee has begun looking at how to put a new or leak-proof roof over its head and how much member towns will be asked to pay.

The existing roof is 18 years old, last replaced in 1995 after 19 years of service, and is now well past its 10-year warranty.

“There are a couple of places that are actively failing, and once they get started it goes quickly,” said Donald Sluter, chairman of the building and grounds sub committee.

Sluter said the roof has sprung leaks, which the school has patched, but once the insulation gets wet, it loses its value.

Business Manager Russ Kaubris presented the full committee with three options earlier this month: continue to patch the roof and hope for the best for several more years, apply a new membrane over the current roof or replace the whole thing.

The membrane system would cost $724,580 with a 15-year warranty while full replacement would cost $2.1 million, excluding architectural, engineering and project administration fees, Kaubris said.

Complicating the decision, the Massachusetts School Building Authority can reimburse roof replacement projects but has never reimbursed the less costly membrane overlay, Kaubris said.

Superintendent James Laverty said the MSBA reimburses on a sliding scale of up to 75 percent and the school could include other needed maintenance projects in the application, but the process is competitive and, ironically, the technical school’s standing would be weakened by its maintenance efforts.

“One of the biggest challenges we have is that we have taken care of our building,” Laverty said.

Kaubris said the state route would likely entail at least a year’s delay, but the other opton could be done this summer if the school reaches out to its member towns in time.

Sluter told the committee the existing insulation is currently in 95 percent fine shape. The insulation is adequate to the building’s needs but is not optimal if the school wanted to be a completely green facility, Sluter said.

The School Committee postponed a decision, with Chairman Richard Kuklewicz urging other members to begin contacting selectboards and finance committees in the regional district’s 19 member towns to present the situation and options under consideration.

Kaubris said the school has about $250,000 set aside in its capital stabilization fund.

In the past, before legal limits on how much money schools can set aside, FCTS was able to pay for major projects without going to the towns, Sluter said.

“Franklin County Tech had enough money in their rainy day accounts and so forth to foot the cost of the last roof ourselves, expecting we’d get paid back,” he said.

Full replacement of the roof cost $979,300 in 1995, with the school footing the full bill after anticipated state reimbursements failed to materialize, Kaubris said.

The School Committee meets at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of every month at 82 Industrial Boulevard in the school’s meeting room and wrestling gym.

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