New roofs are being installed this summer on the east La Grande High School building and several others in the La Grande School District. Finishing touches on the $1.3 million roof project are expected to be completed by Sept. 10. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
This summer has been a productive one on the La Grande School District roofing front.
New roofs have been installed at Greenwood and Willow elementary schools, the west La Grande High School building and much of the east LHS building. Finishing touches on the $1.3 million roof project are expected to be complete by Sept. 10.
“We made progress. We have accomplished a lot,” said Chris Panike, the La Grande School District’s business and plant operations director.
A mystery at La Grande High School was solved in the process of doing the roof work. For years the home economics classroom starting leaking two to three days after every heavy rainstorm.
“For years we have wondered why this happened. It was driving us crazy for a long time,” Panike said.
The mystery was solved earlier this summer when workers pulled off the old roof over the home economics room and found grooves that had been cut in the insulation under the roof. Water pooled in the grooves during heavy rainstorms and then seeped into the home economics room two to three days later.
Panike said his staff identified the cause of the delayed leak the moment they spotted the grooves in the insulation and the way they were configured.
“When we saw it, we said ‘bingo,’” Panike said.
Much of the roof work was funded with a no-interest loan through the federal Qualified Zone Academy Bond program. QZAB loans are given by banks that receive federal tax credits for providing interest-free loans to school districts. Sterling Bank of Island City provided the $1.2 million QZAB loan to the La Grande School District.
The QZAB loan provided most — but not all — of the funding needed to do the work. The district also spent $100,000 from its general fund for the roof projects. The money was taken from the district’s 2012-13 and 2013-14 budgets.
However, the funding did not cover the complete costs of the projects. Only two thirds of the east LHS building could be replaced because of a shortage of funding. To replace the last one third of the LHS east building roof would cost an additional $150,000.
Panike said there is not enough money in the district’s general fund to cover the expense. He said one potential funding source for this work could be a capital projects bond. The La Grande School Board is considering asking voters to approve a bond for building and maintenance work in November 2014.
“We have to look at other funding sources. One might include a capital projects bond,” Panike said.
Should voters approve a bond, money from it might also be used to pay for other roofing issues in the district. Panike said the district recently learned that all of Central Elementary School’s roof needs to be replaced because of deterioration and the roofs for the awnings at Willow Elementary need to be replaced.
Although roofing issues remain to be addressed, La Grande School District Superintendent Larry Glaze is encouraged by what was accomplished this summer.
“We still have roof needs, but we got a large percentage of our roof work done,” he said. “We feel good about that.”