Riverhead OK’s $350K in school repairs

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Superintendent Nancy Carney gives a presentation on the nearly $350,000 in repairs approved by the Riverhead school board Tuesday night.

The Riverhead school board approved nearly $350,000 in repairs to district boilers, plumbing, electrical systems and sidewalks at its meeting Tuesday night.

The unanimous decision allows the district to pull $346,028 from a roughly $4.2 million reserve dedicated to repairs to decaying, damaged, or disabled school property and buildings, school officials said.

Superintendent Nancy Carney said during a public hearing before the board vote that the repair reserve, approved by voters in May 2011, gets its savings from unused district funds at the end of the school year and can be used to make repairs not already outlined in the big October 2011 school bond.

Among the projects including in the $346,000 price tag are $28,000 in repairs to the high school boiler, $40,000 to replace valves and install self-metered faucets in district bathrooms, $28,000 in upgrades the public address system at Riley Avenue School, and $35,000 in repairs to electrical switch gears and components at district schools, Ms. Carney said.

Roofing repairs not covered in the school bond will also be fixed at a cost of $27,709, she said.

Ms. Carney said the replacements of roof seams and drains would prevent district roofing from falling into disrepair, as has happened in the past.

“The purpose of this is ongoing maintenance so we’re not in the same situation we were in,” she said.

School board member Jeff Falisi asked why the district was proposing a $3,000 repair job for the old permanent generator in Riley Avenue School when money could be spent elsewhere, such as adding a generator to Riverhead High School.

District officials said the high school would already receive a permanent generator through the school bond, and that the repaired generator at Riley would help teachers and administrators in power outages during the school day.

In the public comment section of the required public hearing before the vote, one resident asked whether the district could buy its own materials to save money, as contractors may charge more for materials than wholesalers.

District assistant superintendent of finance Sam Schneider said that when contractors provide the materials, they are responsible for the quality of the materials and the installation. If the district were to supply materials, they would lose that guarantee in case a contractor did a poor job, since a contractor could say the district’s choice of materials was the cause of the part failure, not the contractor’s work.

Mr. Schneider also said any savings would be minimal and not worthwhile for the district, though he did not provide specific numbers.

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