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FASD delays budget vote; approves roof repair

The Fairfield Area School District board (FASD) voted unanimously on May 10 to award bids for contractors to begin roof work on the elementary and middle and high school.

Following a discussion with William Mooney, district buildings and grounds supervisor, the board approved the contracts in its consent agenda.

The awarded bids included $592,000 to Ream Roofing Associates, LLC for the high school and middle school and $145,000 to Detwiler Roofing, LLC for the elementary school.

Following recent storms, Mooney said that the elementary school developed three new leaks, including one in the teachers’ break room.

Fully replacing roofs in the district would get pricey as adjustments would have to be made in order to get them up to code, Mooney said. He recommended resurfacing the roofs with a 20-year coating. After 20 years, the roofs can be re-covered for one third of the cost (not including inflation).

Mooney said the roofs will be white to reduce damage from heat and UV rays.

“If we do nothing and we have to replace the roof, we’re looking at over $20 per square foot,” Mooney said. “If we resurface it now, we’re looking at about roughly $14 per square foot and we’re going to get a better, more durable product which is going to not degrade at the rate of EPDM (rubber roofing) and the white roof will be beneficial to the cooling load of the building. If we have a black roof up there, it tends to add heat to the building. It’s a heat load, so that would negate a lot of that.”

The consent agenda, which included approving the roof repairs, was passed 9-0.

The board voted to table a discussion about whether to raise the real estate tax millage rate from 11.0751 to 11.462 (3.5%.) It also decided to wait to approve the proposed 2021-22 preliminary budget.

The potential tax rate increase and the preliminary budget are linked. The board agreed to hold a budget workshop to try to reduce the budget if possible in order to avoid raising the tax millage rate as high.

It will revisit the rate increase and budget during its next regular meeting.

Testing

While Barbara Richwine, principal of Fairfield Area Elementary School, reported that testing participation rates are high at her school, Patricia Weber, principal of Fairfield Area Middle School, had concerns about her school’s rates.

Weber said that the middle school’s PSSA participation rate has been at about 95%. Should it drop below 95%, the school will be penalized later this year for each student who opted out, she said.

Weber also noted that the substitute fill rate has been unsatisfactory.

From May 3-14, there were 14 unfilled positions and only eight filled positions, she said. The school has had to combine classes when substitutes were not available.

Public comment

One participant asked the board why schools have had to close and why cleaning crews haven’t worked on weekends to clean the buildings to reduce closures.

He also asked when the board member will move from its Zoom meetings back to in-person meetings.

Mooney said that he has not had staff members available to work overtime to clean on weekends when closures have occurred on Fridays.

Other business

Superintendent Michael Adamek said that Gov. Tom Wolf’s looser restrictions scheduled for Memorial Day weekend will allow more flexibility with the upcoming graduation ceremony.

Adamek also said that he anticipates the approval of the COVID-19 vaccine for 12-15 year-old children will reduce the amounts of closures the schools experience due to positive cases of the novel coronavirus.

The board voted to have all of its 12-month employees work Monday through Thursday for 10 hours a day, closing on Fridays, from June 14 through Aug. 23.

The next regular board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, May 24.

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Imari Scarbrough is a freelance journalist. She was a staff newspaper reporter for five years before becoming a freelancer in 2017. She has written on crime, environmental issues, severe weather events, local and regional government and more.

You can visit her website at ImariJournal.com.

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