On Monday night, the Enterprise school board received an estimate of costs to do deferred maintenance on their elementary school, junior high and high school buildings. The report, prepared by The Wenaha Group of Pendleton, was funded by the Oregon Department of Education and is part of a program intended to improve statewide K-12 educational facilities, especially in rural communities. The preliminary estimates of the repairs recommended in the Wenaha Group’s study are expensive. They total $1.5 million for the elementary school, $3.6 million for the high school, and a whopping $11.6 million for the art deco junior high school, which was built in 1918. And this estimate does not include the costs of seismic retrofits and some structural repairs that may include portions of the CMU walls in the elementary school.
“But we don’t have to do all of them,” said School board president Kate Fent. “We mostly want to fix the roof and some other major problems.” Under the deferred maintenance assessment programs, Oregon will provide grants that match whatever funds are raised through bonds or donations to do the repairs, up to $4 million dollars. Not every repair included in the assessment is essential. Some include costs for items that can be done later, or in smaller increments such as replacing worn carpeting or painting walls.
Determining which major repairs to make will be a 16-month process, said school board member Adrian Harguess. That process includes forming several committees of community members who will review the costs and urgency of repairs laid out in the detailed assessments, and help the school board determine the work that should be done.
“ We really need people in the community to participate in this process, to help us make decisions, and to be involved,” Fent said.
The study found several critical problems that need to be corrected in the near future, said Cassie Hibbert of Wenaha Group consultants. “The junior high school roof is at the end of its life, and needs to be replaced,” Hibbert said. “Some of this work needs to be done as soon as possible. And certainly before late fall rains and winter snow. The need is immediate.” She cited the boiler room roof, which leaks, along with worn and leaking membrane fabric, extremely poor edge detailing at parapets, and places where the roof membrane is detached. Clogged drains and gutters allow water to not only leak through the roof, but also infiltrate the building’s walls, producing additional structural damage to the building. “The immediate need is to re-roof the boiler room, re-seal or patch parts of the perimeter and parapets, and clean out the roof drains,” Hibbert said. The junior high school building will need a full re-roofing in the summer of 2020. Wenaha Group and their roofing consultant Structural Waterproof Consultants, strongly suggest re-roofing the remaining buildings in the summer of 2021.
Improving storm water drainage, which presently inundates a neighbor’s basement and is doing structural damage to the school buildings is another pressing need considered a high priority by the Wenaha Group and also the school board. A deteriorating HVAC system, with pipes that are “at their end of life” according to the study also needs to be replaced. Other issues of concern include the need to improve ADA access, improve lighting by replacing fluorescents with LED lights, and improving student and building security. “Some of these things can improve the efficiency of operation, and save some costs in the long run,” Wenaha’s Scott Rogers said.
The next steps will include a school board meeting in September to help establish a long range planning committee of people in the community. That committee will review the facilities assessment, determine the priorities for repairs, and in April 2020, make recommendation to the board of education. ‘’Depending upon those recommendations, the board may seek to levy a bond for half the cost of the repairs, with matching funds to meet the full costs provide through Oregon’s Department of Education Oregon School Capital Improvements (OSCIM) grant program,
“It’s a long process, said Wenaha’s Rogers. “But with Oregon’s available funding, it’s really the most economical way for rural school districts to make needed repairs and upgrades.”