Voters have approved a $2.49 million levy to replace the leaky Polson High School roof. The roof is more than 30 years old and leaked so much last spring that the final day of school was canceled.
The mail-in ballot election wrapped up on Feb. 26, with 2,002 votes for the levy and 1,059 votes against it.
“We are very appreciative of the people who voted for this,” said first-year high school principal Rex Weltz. “It makes a big difference for our kids.”
Last winter, Vice Principal Brandon Thurston said the roof has always had problems, but in recent years it had gotten worse. The roof has two layers – a concrete base and an insulated roof above. The insulated section is primarily made of foam material that has been picked apart by birds over the last few years.
School district business manager Pam Owen said the leaks were so bad last spring there were buckets and towels strewn about the school. When Weltz arrived as the new principal last year, the roof was one of the first things mentioned to him.
“It’s one of those basic necessities,” he said. “(Roofs) don’t last forever and the parents understand that our kids need a good learning environment. It’s just common sense.”
In 2011, the school district appealed to the community for a levy to fix the roof, but that effort was turned down. This time, Owen said the school board and district were aggressive in their campaign for funds.
“It just wasn’t sold well enough to the community (last time),” she said. “I think there were some unanswered questions and so they turned it down.”
Last summer, the district received a $164,000 loan to replace one-third of the high school’s roof and Weltz said that has helped with some of the leaks. The $2.49 million from this year’s levy will go toward replacing the rest of the roof, updating the heating and ventilation systems and asbestos and mold remediation.
The Polson School District is now calling for bids for the roof replacement project, Owen said. Bids are due on March 25 and the school board is expected to choose a contractor three days later on March 28. Owen said with any luck, the project will begin the day after school gets out in June and be completed before September.
Weltz said so far the school is dry this year, but if there is a wet spring that could change.
“(Students) realized last year that this was not cool,” he said. “(This school) is their home, they spend a lot of time here and so they are excited … It was not a good environment to say the least.”
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