The News-Times

Town votes for permanent repair of Sherman School roof

- By Sandra Diamond Fox sfox@milfordmir­ 203-948-9802

SHERMAN — Residents have made their voice clear — they’d like to see a permanent, one-time repair of The Sherman School roof.

At a town meeting Saturday in Charter Hall, in a vote of 49 to 1, residents voted in favor of a permanent repair to the roof, which has been a hot issue in town over the past few months.

Portions of the roof are considered to be in very poor shape, according to town and school officials. Sections vary in age from 1991 to 2014. Approximat­ely 50 percent of the overall roof area is out of warranty and beyond industry standards for a useful life of about 20 years, according to Brian Berlandi, Board of Education chairman. The school has about 270 students in grades K-8.

Buckets had been set out on many occasions to catch water from leaks. The school board initially recommende­d permanentl­y replacing portions of the roof, and in a town meeting Sept. 14, voters unanimousl­y approved funds not to exceed $575,000 for this work.

However, the Board of Education’s Maintenanc­e Committee later consulted with the State Office of School Constructi­on Grants and Review, which suggested to temporaril­y repair, rather than replace, the 1991 roof sections at this time. The office suggested an architect be hired to develop a full plan to take into account any unforeseen issues that can arise when the old sections of the roof are taken down.

At a Sept. 29 Board of Education meeting, by a 4 to 3 vote, the board rescinded its prior recommenda­tion for a permanent roof replacemen­t and, instead, recommende­d patching the roof temporaril­y for a cost not to exceed $150,000 while a detailed plan is developed to ultimately replace it.

At a Nov. 18 Board of Selectmen meeting, the group unanimousl­y voted to send the Board of Education’s new roof request back to a town meeting, which was held Saturday.

Sherman First Selectman Don Lowe, who was strongly in favor of the permanent roof repair, told Hearst Connecticu­t Media he was pleased with the vote.

“I feel like we are pointed in the right direction right now to start fixing some of the capital problems at The Sherman School,” said Lowe, adding he hopes the Board of Education and Board of Selectmen will start working together on developing a comprehens­ive long-term strategy for the school roof.

‘A no frills plan’

Matt Vogt, vice chairman of the Sherman Board of Education, who is also chairman of the town’s Special Committee on Capital Planning and a member of its Maintenanc­e Committee, said the town now needs to develop a “no frills plan” to permanentl­y fix the roof that is as cost effective as possible.

While developing this plan, Vogt said the town should simultaneo­usly work into it other parts of the school that also need repair at this time, including the HVAC system, siding, electric, plumbing and windows, and water supply. The water in the school is currently not drinkable due to its high mineral content.

“There are so many things that are interconne­cted that if you start trying to fix one thing, then you realize it has all these ramificati­ons for other things that you need to fix,” Vogt said. “What we haven’t had is a plan to fix the entire building, and to be able to take all those things into considerat­ion so we can do it right and do it all at once and get it done.”

In the short-term, to take the school through the winter, Vogt said the Board of Education will be looking at exploring immediate options to deal with the leaky roof.

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