The school board may ask voters to help pay for the repairs in November.
By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
NORTH JACKSON -- School officials here know they have to do something before the bricks start falling from the exterior walls at Jackson-Milton High School.
They don't know what that might be, how much it will cost or how they're going to afford it.
"Right now, it's just totally unknown," said board of education President Harold Maynard.
Maynard and other school officials met with local contractors this morning to assess the damage to the bricks, which look as if they're being pushed out from the inside. School Superintendent Warne Palmer said maintenance workers first noticed the damage last week.
Old building: "Someone looked up and said, 'It looks like it's going to fall off the building," Palmer said, adding that the damage can be found above 10 to 12 of the windows in the main school building. The building was constructed in 1913.
Raymond Jaminet, an architect with the Youngstown firm of Olsavsky and Jaminet, said water from the school's roof may have leaked down into the walls above the windows.
There are large, brown water stains on the original ceiling of some of the second-story classrooms. The original ceiling had been covered by a foam-tile drop ceiling.
The water may have caused steel in the walls to rust and expand, pushing the brick out, Jaminet said.
However, Jaminet said he won't know the official cause for the damage until later this week, when construction crews finish drilling holes in the school walls.
The holes are needed to determine what type of materials were used to construct the building, because any original construction drawings have disappeared during the last 88 years.
The school holds about 525 students and between between 50 and 60 faculty and staff members during the year. Palmer said the school is not used during the summer.
Value engineering: Jaminet and other local contractors will use the information they learn from drilling the holes to determine what repairs are needed. Jaminet said the repairs will be an exercise in "value engineering," which he defined as "finding the best fix for the least amount of dollars."
School officials are concerned that the repairs may add to the financial woes of the school district, which has been in fiscal emergency for the past three years. Palmer was to have called the state auditor Friday to discuss ending the fiscal emergency.
He learned of the damage to the school Thursday.
Palmer said he will talk to state officials about helping to pay for the repairs. However, Board Treasurer John Zinger said state officials consider Jackson-Milton an affluent school district, and as a result, they have been unwilling to help pay for capital improvements in the past.
Zinger said that the cost of the repairs"could throw us back into fiscal emergency."
Budget: The school has an annual general fund budget of $8 million. About $1 million of that comes from a 9.9-mill emergency levy that took effect in 1998. The levy is set to expire at the end of 2002.
Palmer said the district will consider putting a bond issue on the ballot this November to pay for the repairs. He noted that a steering committee has been meeting to discuss the district's facility needs.
The school board was expected to make a final decision about the future of the high school next year.
"This may move our timeline up," Palmer said.