By THOMAS M. LYDEN
The Columbiana Exempted Village School Board has decided to ask the community for funds to improve the ailing facilities at South Side Middle School.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the board voted unanimously to declare the necessity of a $4 million school improvement bond.
Once the county auditor calculates the specific millage involved, the board will vote to place the issue on the May ballot, said Superintendent Donald Mook.
Voters in the school district defeated a bond issue for the same amount last August.
Mook took responsibility for that setback, saying he failed to get the word out.
The primary purpose of the proposed bond is to replace the roof over South Side Middle School, which has been leaking.
Tom Kurilla, a professional roofing consultant with TeamART LLC, recently toured the roof of the middle school with Mook.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Kurilla delivered a presentation to the board.
“My initial reaction was jaw-dropping.” Kurilla said. “There is a significant risk of a complete fall-in through freezing and thawing,” he later added.
Kurilla explained that the roof lacked a slope to drain water and that the asphalt layer was incorrectly installed causing it to become brittle. “It was designed to fail,” he said.
Kurilla recommended that the entire roof be replaced as soon as possible.
Major portions of the roof need a temporary plastic covering in order to keep the roof watertight in the meantime, he warned.
Besides replacing the roof, money from the bond would also go to installing a new heating, ventilation, and air- conditioning system in the middle school.
Built in 1962, South Side Middle School is the only facility in the district without air conditioning.
With a new roof and a new HVAC system, the school will save money on heating and cooling in the long run, Mook said.
The bond would also address aesthetics at the middle school, including improvements to the floors, ceilings, walls, bookshelves and counters, all of which Mook called “outdated and damaged.”
Regardless of whether bond issue passes in May, the school board must address the roof problem, Mook said.
If the bond issue does not pass, the board will have to use money from its general fund for repairs.
Taking money from the general fund to fix the roof means there will be less money for everything else — from teachers to buses.
“We understand that nobody wants additional taxes for anything. But this is an asset in the community,” Mook said about the middle school.
“So it’s necessary for us to move forward with this [bond issue], and hopefully we can gain community support.”