Schools roof work looking up


Five schools in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District are getting a facelift this summer, though the results are so high up they may not be immediately visible.

Work is under way to replace roofs on Kalifornsky Beach Elementary, Kenai Alternative/Aurora Borealis, Soldotna High and Kenai Central High schools and the district’s warehouse in Soldotna. The work is part of a three-year replacement cycle that will cover — rather, re-cover — 11 facilities in all. Ninilchik School’s roof was replaced last year. The remaining five — Nikiski Middle-High, Seward Elementary, Chapman, Homer Middle and McNeil Canyon Elementary schools — will be done in the 2012 construction season.

Five contractors were awarded bids to do the work this summer and are making the most of the short construction season, said Dave Spence, director of planning and operations for KPBSD.

“They have until the second week of August when school gets back under way again. I’m sure they’ll act with all due speed,” he said.

The 11 jobs are being parsed out over three years due to the condensed timeframe in which to work and a limited labor pool to utilize for such large jobs.

But Spence doesn’t anticipate problems developing in the facilities that have to wait another year. The roofs aren’t failing, they’re just past their lifespan.

“These are straightforward projects. The warranty on these roofs has certainly elapsed. The majority are well past the 20 years on these life spans. It’s just time to replace them. We’ve gotten our money’s worth out of them. If you try to defer maintenance now you end up paying more in the long run,” Spence said.

Kenai Peninsula Borough voters approved a bond package of $16,866,500 in 2010 to pay for the roof replacements. The projects are eligible for 70 percent reimbursement from the state, leaving the borough responsible for paying just 30 percent of the costs, an estimated $5.1 million plus interest. Through a federal program, the borough also has an opportunity to be reimbursed a portion of the interest expense on the bonds, for an estimated savings of $35,000.

“That 70-30 split is certainly a good deal,” Spence said.