Adams 14’s Kearney Middle School earns $2.1 million grant to replace its roof.
Time and weather conditions have taken their toll of all of Adams 14 school buildings. But relief is in sight for at least one of those buildings. That’s because Kearney Middle School’s proposed roofing project was approved for funding through the state’s BEST (Building Excellent Schools Today) program whose aim is to provide first class, high performing facilities and help alleviate health and safety concerns throughout the state.
This highly competitive grant program provides funds for worthy projects through matching local funds. Applications are reviewed by nine appointed members from the state’s Capital Construction Assistance Board which recommends the projects to be funded to the state board of education which approves the funding allocations.
Every year there are many more applications than there is available funding. Only the most needed projects are selected. Kearney Middle School’s roof project made that cut. The new construction will replace the school’s aging roof which has seen years of leaks and drips that have been patched over many times. Parts of the roof are 35 to 40 years old.
“That old roof looks a lot like a patch-work quilt,” said Scott Weber, the district maintenance manager. “We’ve stretched the usefulness completely out of that roof and it has nothing more to give. This grant came just in the nick of time.”
A new roof isn’t typically something a lot of people get excited over – unless you’re one of the 800 students go have lived under the old, dilapidated roof. Once the new roof is put on, the school will instantly become about 10 percent more energy efficient and buckets will not be needed for all the surprise leaks and puddles that randomly form when it’s wet outside.
“The new roof should last about 10 years as long as we don’t have consistently harsh conditions over time,” Weber added. “Our maintenance staff will be freed up to work on other, really demanding school projects.
“We have a lot of old, obsolete buildings here in the district and that takes a lot more work and attention to keep them safe and open for students,” Weber said. “During the school year, we spend a lot of time rushing from one school to the next to keep things in operational order. That’s expensive, time-consuming and disruptive to kids trying their best to learn important lessons.”
At some point soon, we’re going to hit the wall of returns on investments we’re making on these old buildings,” Weber said. “We simply can’t keep up and industry standards say we’ve stretched more than a useful life cycle out of these old buildings.”
Weber says he worries about the safety of a lot of these old schools. There will come a day soon when one thing breaks and it just starts the domino effective with other failing systems and components that you just can’t fix fast enough.
“I hate to think about that because that’s when kids can’t go to school anymore,” he said. “It’s not safe and we can’t protect our children at that point.”