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Emergency repairs needed at Alpena Public Schools

Courtesy Photo This photo, courtesy of Alpena Public Schools, shows the roof at Wilson Elementary School about three weeks ago with standing water that remained days after it rained.

ALPENA — The Alpena Public Schools superintendent says roofs and boilers in the schools need potentially millions of dollars in emergency repairs.

Superintendent John VanWagoner will discuss possible solutions with the Board of Education over the next month.

Roofs and boilers at several schools in the district are past their life expectancies and need to be replaced, VanWagoner said. He said Friday the board will have to make a decision on where the money to fix those issues will come from.

It isn’t immediately clear how much the emergency needs might cost. The district planned $4.5 million in roof and boiler work as part of a $63 million bond proposal rejected by voters 4,250 to 2,549 in May.

The district started the school year with $4.1 million in its savings account.

VanWagoner is talking to groups around the area to get ideas regarding the district’s emergency situation, he said Friday. He doesn’t know if another vote for a bond proposal or tax hike would take place.

“I have no authority over the decision,” VanWagoner said. “I just share any ideas.”

Some boilers barely started this fall and are leaking, VanWagoner said. The district has had companies try to put parts together for the boilers, but there are some parts that aren’t fixable.

“We are at a critical level across the district — it’s just that simple,” VanWagoner said. “They’re way beyond their lifespan.”

A recent study, completed by IRT Commercial Services in Traverse City, showed the roof at Wilson Elementary School should only last another year. The roof was installed in 1992 and has parts that are beyond repair, with patches covering most of it.

“It really gave us a good expertise of where we’re at,” VanWagoner said. “When it was put in and the building was built, there’s no roof drains, so there’s standing water days after it rained.”

The roofs at Ella White Elementary School and Alpena High School are also becoming an issue.

The estimated cost for the new roof at Wilson is $300,000. VanWagoner said the high school is six to seven times bigger than Wilson, so the cost for a new roof there would be in the millions.

VanWagoner said there is a chance at Wilson that tile or drywall could fall from leaks.

The structure of the roof, though, is sound.

If an emergency situation does take place at a school where a student could end up getting hurt, VanWagoner said he would remove students from the building.

The board has a retreat scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Nov. 4, at which VanWagoner will discuss the situation with trustees. The board’s next regular meeting is 5:30 p.m. Nov. 18.

“We need to do something, and we need to do something quick,” VanWagoner said.

Julie Goldberg can be reached at 989-358-5688 or jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com. Follow her on Twitter @jkgoldberg12.

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