Roof problems continue to plague schools

OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee County School District continues to struggle with replacing roofs at the public schools.

Last year, the roof replacement at Okeechobee High School performed by Property Renovation and Construction did not go smoothly. What was originally scheduled to be a two-month project stretched into almost a full year.

While giving an update on the project to the school board back on April 9, Okeechobee County School District Director of Operations Brian Barrett described the work on the OHS roof as “problematic.” A Powerpoint presentation viewed by the school board pointed to poor workmanship and not following the contracted roof specifications as reason for the delay in the project.

Lake Okeechobee News/Richard Marion
The Okeechobee County School Board approved a change order for $25,500 that was needed for the installation of additional materials under 25 air conditioning units at Central Elementary.

Now the roof replacement at Central Elementary is experiencing delays as well.

The project was originally scheduled to be completed before the beginning of the 2019-20 school year, but now Mr. Barrett says a completion date can’t be estimated.

Okeechobee Superintendent of Schools Ken Kenworthy said the district has experienced extreme difficulty with the project. The work on the Central roof is being performed by the same contractor that worked on the OHS roof, Property Renovation and Construction.

The school board had to approve two new change orders at its Sept. 10 meeting for work to continue at the elementary school. The first change order approved was for $25,500 and was needed for the installation of additional materials under 25 air conditioning units on five buildings. The second change order was for $35,512 and was for new metal materials to replace older material that has rusted and need to be sandblasted off.

To help ensure the Central Elementary roof project gets back on track, the school board approved a new contract with Roof Assessments Specialists Inc. The company will now review the work on the Central roof as it progresses, provide daily image reports, review and enforce correction of property damage and review pay requests among other duties.

The district considered moving on from the current contractor, but school board attorney Tom Conely explained his reasoning to the school board on why he felt hiring Roof Assessment Specialists might be a better way to spend their money.

“If we fire somebody we’re going to have to go through a legal process. We’re going to go through litigation,” said Mr. Conely. “How is our money better spent? Our money is better spent in getting the project finished. I think it is going to be good to have the inspector there full time.”

Director Barrett is hopeful the Central Elementary project will be completed by Christmas 2019.

Richard Marion is a staff writer and photographer at Lake Okeechobee News and can be reached at rmarion@newszap.com.

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