Roof repairs to cost $500,000

Bt Henri C. Bienvenu

BREAUX BRIDGE – A divided school board voted last week to spend another $500,000 to try and stop leaks in the St. Martinville Jr. High School roof.

Several board members questioned why repairs to the roof on the parish’s newest school — it was formally dedicated five years ago this month — are not covered by the manufacturer’s warranty or by the general contractor.

But Joey Picard of Breaux Bridge, a roofing expert hired by the board to review the SMJH problems, said the five-year warranty by the company which provided the materials does not cover the poor workmanship, which appears to be the main cause of the leaks. Picard pointed out that the board has already signed an agreement accepting the job as complete, “so you can no longer hold the contractor liable (for the poor workmanship issue). We have no recourse.”

An outside attorney specializing in roofing issues has advised the board that the costs associated with litigating for damages would likely exceed any compensation. “There is a very slim chance we will get anything (out of going to court),” said Supt. Richard Lavergne. “It could be quite costly, and we need to do something immediately.”

Repairs were made on the roof several months ago, but were apparently not very successful as numerous leaks have been noted since the hurricanes that hit the area at the beginning of September. Extensive leaks have been noted in the gym and cafeteria areas.

Board member Steve Fuselier said the repair work done earlier this year cost the board about $20,000 and a stretch of relatively dry weather over the summer was part of the reason the leaks were not noticed until last month.

The hurricane winds were not believed to have caused the new leaks.

“The roof has been leaking since day one,” commented one board member.

Board member Floyd Knott, who opposed the $500,000 expenditure, said it was his recollection that, during an executive session to discuss the situation, the board was told that there would be a warranty on the repair work. “Otherwise, we would not have spent the money on the repairs.”

Estimates put the cost of replacing the entire roof at around $1.5 million. The board, by a 6-4 vote, opted to have a rubberized coating applied to the roof for $500,000.

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