Steve Sobay, the operations supervisor for Menominee Area Public Schools, looks over the water damage in a bathroom caused by the roof leaking Wednesday at Blesch Intermediate School. Voters will be asked May 6 to approve a $6.5 million millage over 10 years to fund basic repair and maintenance of school facilities. <br>EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
Steve Sobay, the operations supervisor for Menominee Area Public Schools, looks over the water damage in a bathroom caused by the roof leaking Wednesday at Blesch Intermediate School. Voters will be asked May 6 to approve a $6.5 million millage over 10 years to fund basic repair and maintenance of school facilities.
EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
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MENOMINEE - Menominee Area Public Schools buildings are in need of repair.

The Community for Kids Committee is in the process of informing the public to support a 2 mill building and site sinking fund. The millage will provide approximately $6.5 million for the next 10 years for basic repair and maintenance of school facilities.

The millage, if passed, will be for repairs to Blesch Intermediate School, Central School and the Menominee Junior and High School. The elementary schools were built in the 1950s and the high school in 1969.

"We are always in need of making repairs daily. These repairs are generally an easy fix, but there are some hurdles that we come across," said Steve Sobay, operations supervisor for MAPS.

The biggest hurdle is asbestos installed as fire protection when the building was built in 1969-70.

"Now that our building is 45 years old, we are starting to have some issues with plumbing (galvanized pipes leaking) and they are in the contaminated area of asbestos, which is sprayed on over the entire area as fire protection," Sobay said.

The main supply of water runs through the 183,000-square-foot high school building.

"When, not if, the line breaks or has some kind of major leak, the entire building would have to be shut down. This could take months to get the proper certified people on site to address the asbestos before the repair could be done," said Sobay.

Fixing roofs, replacing windows and tuckpointing

During a tour of MAPS, Sobay explained some of the tuckpointing issues.

Those included the bricks on the outside of Blesch and the high school cracking and chipping from moisture and water damage in a bathroom at Blesch.

Roof leaks have also caused water damage in the auditorium at Blesch and stains in the ceiling tiles of the hallways and classrooms of all buildings.

Tuckpointing or repointing to place wet mortar into cut or raked joints to repair weathered joints in old masonry is needed. As old mortar joints crack and show wear, this creates a potentially serious problem in our climate, Sobay said.

Moisture from rain and snow gets into the cracked mortar joints and then freezes causing the face bricks to push out or crack making the problem multiply.

Sobay said moisture then enters into these cracks and also travels down the walls and into ceilings showing as water leaks, but are more serious than just a leak.

The district has 332,000 square feet of flat rubber roof in need of replacement.

"The oldest roof is 11 years past its warranty for the membrane and has had the seams repaired twice. The last major roof repair was installed in 1999 and has a warranty of 15 years, which expires this year," he said.

Sobay said the high school gym roof is the oldest roof on the district buildings.

When it leaks, school staff gather 10 to 15 barrels in the gym to catch the uneven drips from the corrugated roof.

Also water over the rubber roof has leaked into the soffit area above the high school library.

"If a ceiling tile has to be changed, it has to be treated as contaminated because of asbestos," Sobay. "We are limited to what can do with maintenance because of asbestos issues."

A majority of the window replacements needed are at the junior and high school, which have original single-pane glass installed in 1969.

During wind and/or snow storms, snow or rain comes in through the windows and is not just a caulking issue, it's the construction of the window frames, said Sobay.

Project costs:

- $2.3 million to remove or reduce asbestos at the junior and senior high school.

- $2.5 million district-wide roof replacement.

- $1.15 million window replacement and tuckpointing.

- $400,000 improvements to security systems for all schools.

Upgrades to the junior and senior high school boiler system and high school elevator improvements are also in the bid for school repairs.

Sobay said the school district has already made energy saving attempts by converting the steam boilers to more efficient hot water boilers but due to the inefficient windows in the building, still have heat loss issues.

"This millage can only be used for maintenance items," Sobay said. "If we get it, the money will be used to do the repairs needed, the repair work then be filed with the state who look at it and reimburse us."

Committee seeking a Yes vote

The Community for Kids Committee encourages residents to get out and vote yes for the millage May 6.

Members are currently putting together a video of all the building damage and will explain what tuckpointing is.

Committee co-chair Bonnie Urban said a townhall meeting will be held at district schools for the public to see why the millage is needed.

Brochures explaining the millage will be passed out.

Committee members are also looking over the voter registration lists and targeting those who will vote yes. They plan to do all calls to registered voters two days prior to the vote to remind them to vote.

Cost of the millage to property owners will vary depending on the taxable value of their property. Estimate property tax increase for a home with a taxable value of $37,500 is $75 a year; a $50,000 home is $100 a year and a $75,000 home is $150 a year.

Renters can also vote.

Register to vote by April 7 by contacting the county clerk at (906) 863-9968. Absentee voting ballots are available Saturday.

Committee co-chairs are Bonnie Urban and Trisha Lemery, secretary is Debbie Clausen and treasurer is Tony Hofer.

The committee will meet April 8 and April 22 in the library of the Blesch Intermediate School.