No decision on skylights
By Scott Bellile
Readfield Elementary School will get a new roof this summer.
The New London School Board approved a $499,100 bid by Walsdorf Roofing Company to replace three sections of Readfield’s roof totaling 28,000 square feet. Walsdorf returned the lowest of bids among five companies, the highest being $588,250.
The project will be covered by a combination of referendum dollars and the school district’s operating budget.
“One thing that we noted as we went to our community [in 2014] is that we can’t solely rely on referendum dollars to do projects. We need to make sure that we have operating funds moving forward to try and do some of these projects when we can,” Joe Marquardt, School District of New London business services director, told the board when it approved the bid Jan. 9.
In 2014, New London area voters approved the nonrecurring referendum of $500,000 a year for four years. Besides roofing, the referendum includes funding for school security upgrades and additional literacy resources. The referendum dollars last through the 2017-18 academic year.
Roof work comprises $1.4 million of the $2 million referendum, or 70 percent. The roofs were beyond their lifecycle and had been patched several times to delay repairs.
Roof replacements took place at New London Intermediate/Middle School during the last two summers. Walsdorf performed the repairs the first summer in 2015.
The upgraded roof will be under warranty for 25 years.
The five contractors also provided bids for replacing seven skylights in Readfield’s hallway and restrooms. The board did not add Walsdorf’s $7,600 skylight replacement bid to the project.
“At this point we will not be awarding the replacement of the skylights?” board member Chris Martinson asked.
Marquardt said the district will research the best option, but he is leaning toward leaving the current skylights up and not replacing them. He questioned whether teachers notice the natural lighting the skylights provide because the lights are hard to see, and thus whether Walsdorf’s bid is worth the $7,600. Walsdorf’s bid was more than double those of the other companies.
“I’m aware that two schools, for some time when they had the skylights and then they didn’t replace them, they just covered them,” Board President Kim Schroeder said. “There is a big difference in the school [as far as natural lighting]. I mean you get used to it, but it is something to think about because they are much nicer than you realize, until you don’t have them.”
“What we want to do is be sure that if we take them away, it doesn’t affect any natural lighting that we’re relying on,” Marquardt said.
Kristin Grable, principal at Readfield, told the Press Star last week the six skylights in the hallway are opaque and provide minimal extra light. Enough natural light shines through the end doorways that the skylights are unnecessary, she said.
Two fixtures in the restrooms might be repaired, Grable said. Marquardt had suggested at the board meeting Readfield keep those so students who are using the restroom can see if pranksters turn off the lights on them.