Thursday, July 18, 2024

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ABSS: Unforeseen problems with roof repairs at GMS will require more money


Alamance-Burlington school system officials are scheduled to present an update and potential funding request to a joint capital oversight committee for ongoing repairs to the roof at Graham Middle School that have turned out to require more work, and money, than originally anticipated.

ABSS chief operations officer Greg Hook said he will present an update on the Graham Middle School roof repair project to the county’s joint capital oversight committee (OSC). That meeting had been scheduled for this morning; it has since been canceled and tentatively rescheduled for late July.

The committee, informally known among county and school officials as “OSC,” meets semi-regularly to evaluate major construction and repair projects for the county, ABSS, and Alamance Community College.

However, repair and construction projects that require additional funding from the county eventually will need to go before Alamance County’s commissioners for consideration, though Hook didn’t give a dollar figure Monday night during an update on the project for the school board.

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School board members had voted in December 2023 to award a $1.3 million contract to repair portions of the roof at Graham Middle School to Triad Roofing Company of Winston-Salem.

In short, no one knew what was under the surface of the roof until crews recently began removing existing portions of the roof, Hook said.  He presented multiple photos to the school board, showing parts of the roof that have crumbled and caved in.

“It really is a life-safety issue,” Hook said, explaining that the underlying layers of roofing, including patches made years earlier, started to cave in once crews began removing the existing materials to install new roofing. “If someone had been up on that roof, working on it for one reason or another – [there’s] a roof drain they could have easily gone right through,” he told the board Monday night.

In order to repair the roof properly, the existing decking and lightweight concrete – two of several layers, including tar paper, applied beneath the roofing shingles – will need to be removed, Hook said, adding that some components in the current roof date back to the original construction of the schoo, then known as Graham High School, in 1951 and don’t meet current building codes.

Fixing those problems, the COO said, will require additional engineering services – and funding – that weren’t included in the scope of work for the repair or the budget for the project, Hook said.

As Hook noted, Alamance County’s commissioners had previously allocated a total of $1.4 million in county capital funding for the project on four separate occasions between October 2, 2019 and November 20, 2023.

In November of last year, the commissioners also contracted with REI Engineers in Raleigh to evaluate all of the school system’s and county’s roofs.

As part of its services, REI provides ABSS with ongoing reports on the status of construction, “typically every couple of weeks,” Hook said Monday night.  “They’re coming out on site working with the roofers, inspecting their work and comparing their work” to building and roofing design specifications.

The latest “construction observation report” that REI submitted to ABSS two weeks ago revealed that at least one area on the existing roof at Graham Middle School (referred to in the report as “Area T”) is structurally insufficient to support new roofing materials. The report also stated that new temporary roofing materials will need to be removed and reinstalled.

[Story continues below photos of Graham Middle School roof.]


The two firms, Triad Roofing and REI, “will make a plan to remove this material” and then install new materials that will be suitable, Hook said.  “But that’s not in the current budget for this,” he told the board Monday night.

Hook suggested that funding that was going to be allocated for an HVAC repair project could be moved to this project.   “We should have money in capital reserves, once they do the next drop, that could accommodate it also,” he said.  “We have some options.”

No approval by the school board was requested in order to present the update and potential funding request at the next OSC meeting.

The members of OSC include: county commissioner chairman John Paisley and vice chairman Steve Carter; school board chairman Sandy Ellington-Graves and vice chairman Donna Westbrooks; ACC trustee chairman Gen. Blake Williams and trustee Bill Gomory; and staff members from county government, ABSS, and ACC.

Other roof repairs in progress

Meanwhile, repairs to roofs at seven other ABSS schools are either in progress or complete, based on information that Hook provided in response to a subsequent request by The Alamance News.

The status of the other roofing projects are as follows:

  • Replacement of the roof at B.E. Jordan Elementary School is scheduled to begin this summer (a $921,277 contract was awarded to BM Roofing Construction of Rocky Mount earlier this month);
  • Eastern High School roof repairs are currently in the design phase (a design contract for $177,880 was awarded to REI Engineers in November 2023);
  • Graham High School roof replacement is in progress (a $3.8 million contract to replace the roof was awarded to Owens Roofing of Smithfield on March 12, 2024);
  • Roof repairs at Southern High School and Western High School are in design; and repairs to the roofs at Haw River Elementary School and Woodlawn Middle School are nearing completion or complete, based on an overview Hook provided to the newspaper.

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