Education

Survey finds major, minor needs at QPS facilities

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Dec. 2, 2017 12:01 am Updated: Dec. 2, 2017 11:27 pm

QUINCY -- The initial report tied to Quincy Public Schools' 10-year health life safety survey lists 250 items with a price tag of $14 million to $17 million.

Work to prioritize the project list begins in December by a subcommittee of the Building and Grounds Committee.

"There's still a lot of legwork that needs to be done," Superintendent Roy Webb said. "We'll put up a 10-year schedule on how we want to execute the health life safety projects."

The three architectural firms that work with QPS -- Architechnics, Klingner and Associates and Poepping, Stone, Bach and Associates -- walked through district buildings for the survey to determine whether they were safe. Illinois school districts are required to conduct a health life safety survey every 10 years. Projects are ranked as urgent, required or recommended.

"A lot of them are very minor that we can complete ourselves internally like exit signs in the wrong location," Webb said. "Some of them are major like a roof at the junior high, which will be a significant cost, and some exterior doors at the junior high and at the Early Childhood Center."

Any urgent projects such as a smoke detector at Madison School and heat detectors at Madison and Washington -- low-cost items that QPS personnel can handle -- must be done. The district has discretion on projects in the other two categories.

Todd Moore with Architechnics said the survey is not an exact science as the district looks to needs over the next decade, especially for costly items like mechanical equipment and roofs.

"For example, when we walk through the junior high, the roofs are getting to an age that if they're a 20-year roof life expectancy and we're at year 18, we expect to replace them in the next 10 years," he said. "It might be we can get by for another 12 to 15 years on that roof. It would probably fall between the required or recommended categories, not urgent."

Replacing roofs at QJHS and Baldwin account for more than $3 million of the estimated survey costs, but that work may shift to the district's next survey. Roof repairs at QJHS, though, could be a priority. Other top needs at QJHS include exterior doors, lighting and flooring.

"For a building that's 85 years old, you're going to have that," QJHS Assistant Principal Rick Owsley said. "We've got to solidify the roof so we're not leaking and causing damage."

Leaking on the building's south side caused damage to walls and has custodians picking up fallen plaster after heavy rains. Moore said the district will probably tackle those repairs next summer to avoid further damage to the wall.

Owsley said the building's exterior doors, which are well past their useful life, don't latch properly and are not energy efficient.

Elsewhere in the district, if cracked concrete on a sidewalk poses a tripping hazard, it's not urgent, but it would be a required project.

Other projects -- including the heating/ventilation/air conditioning systems for the Baldwin auditorium and Blue Devil Gym which listed on the last 10-year survey -- were included as alternate bids in the new K-5 school at the site.

"There might be $1.5 million in health life safety in Baldwin that's already been bid," Moore said. "Those are health life safety items, but it's how the district wants to spend that."

Only projects categorized as urgent will be done at buildings the district intends to sell when students shift to new K-5 buildings.

Moore said the survey findings emphasize a point made in pushing for the $89 million building referendum. Supporters argued that the district avoid $50 million of an estimated $66 million in health life safety costs by building new elementary schools to replace older buildings.

"That left $16 million, exactly where we're at," Moore said. "We looked at what we thought would be remaining, and we pretty much hit the mark."

No work can be done until the district prepares what's known as an amendment to submit to the state and determines how to pay for the project.

The district's 5-cent levy for health life safety generates about $440,000 per year, but that won't cover all costs.

"We'll continue to look at our resources and prioritize our projects," Webb said. "Once we get a priority of effort, figure out what we're going to do internally and what we're going to have to contract out, then we can make a decision on what resources and what our needs are."

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