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Director of facilities updates board on school buildings

On May 3, the Salisbury Township School Board held an operations committee meeting where Bill Brackett, director of facilities, was called on to give the board a detailed account of the current state of each of the district’s facilities.

Talk of solving the district’s looming space issue and other school improvement projects took a back seat to the key issue of water infiltration at both Salisbury High School and Salisbury Elementary School.

After recent heavy rains, the facilities seemed to be taking on water from above and below.

Brackett, who has been monitoring roof leakage at the high school for years pointed out that the roof is under warranty until 2034 and he has had the warranty company patch and repair the roof in several areas. While damage seemed to be limited to ceiling tiles and occasionally a light fixture, new leaks spring up depending on the amount of rain and it is at times difficult to even find the source of leaks.

After board members reported witnessing leaks in the kitchen area following recent storms the board expressed concern over the potential for possible damage to costly kitchen equipment.

Brackett attributed the leaks to unusually severe rainstorms which happen infrequently and a design flaw when the roof was completed in 2002.

He explained the issue was addressed in 2010 but the roof drains in the kitchen area were not able to be rerouted because of the design flaw so the problem still exists.

The board took a proactive approach concerning this matter and rather than risk damaging costly equipment, instructed Brackett to contact engineers to assess the situation and offer a solution to mitigate the problem.

Brackett continued his presentation by addressing the recent water penetration into Salisbury Elementary School which resulted in significant damage to carpeting on the lower level of the building.

He pointed out water penetration has been a 30-year problem for the school, which was knowingly built on swampland. The issue is complex since it involves the roof drainage system as well as water penetrating from under the ground.

A meeting was recently held with D’Huy Engineers and a water monitoring company in an effort to figure out a plan for how to best capture the water and reroute it away from the building. The engineers will figure out the best approach to solve the problem and work on a cost estimate that will be presented to the board at the June 7 board meeting.

Until the problem is resolved an app-driven moisture meter device will be employed throughout the building where leaks are known to occur. If moisture is detected Brackett will be notified immediately which will afford a quick response to the situation ultimately minimizing damages. This prompted director Sarah Nemitz to suggest installing the same device in the high school kitchen area where damage to expensive equipment might be avoided. The device, which could essentially head off thousands of dollars in damage, comes with a $70 price tag.

Construction at Salisbury Middle School will commence on June 6 and run through Aug. 31. The building will not be accessible throughout the summer as the HVAC unit is replaced, new ceiling tiles installed and all lighting changed to LED. Some work will need to be completed once school begins which will entail making sure the systems are balanced and electronic control systems are working properly.

It should be noted that any workers in the building will have the appropriate clearances filed with the district.

Another consideration for the board is replacing the roof on the middle school which will run out of warranty in 2024. The board will need to commit to a new roof by September 2023 which will set the process of gathering a bidding package in motion.

In other news, the board discussed lunch prices for the coming school year. The board committed to not raising prices and expressed concern for families who may be struggling to pay debts. Current prices for lunch in the elementary school will remain at $2.95 and middle and high school lunches will remain at $3.25.

The next operations committee meeting will be 7 p.m. June 7 in the administration building, 1140 Salisbury Road, Allentown.