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Allegheny Valley agrees to repair Colfax school roof

| Friday, March 28, 2014, 1:36 a.m.

Allegheny Valley School District residents want to know what the plan is for Colfax Upper Elementary now that the school board has approved moving forward with work on the Springdale school's roof.

With a split 5-4 vote, the school board Thursday approved fixing the roof at Colfax, but opted for a less expensive option carrying a shorter warranty.

Work on the roof will begin at the end of this school year, with the goal of finishing before students return in late August, Superintendent Cheryl Griffith said.

The board awarded the contract to Strongland Roofing Systems at a cost of $561,480. Part of the roof will be replaced and carry a 20 year warranty, while part will be repaired and warranted for 10 years.

That's about $122,000 less than the low bid of roughly $683,000 for the full replacement with a 30-year warranty submitted by Miller-Thomas Gyekis. The district has about $883,000 from an earlier bond to pay for the roof work.

The board had been slated to vote on the roof contract at its last regular meeting March 17, but was unable to do that or any other business after three of the seven members present — Antonio Pollino, Stephen Puskar and Jimette Gilmartin — walked out.

The full nine-member board was present Thursday night. Glenna Renaldi joined those three in voting against awarding the contract; board members Larry Pollick, Salvatore Conte, Kathleen Haas, Annetta Jursa and Elizabeth Moretti voted in favor.

An effort by Puskar to delay the vote failed.

Opinions on the school differ sharply.

“This is a jewel in our district,” Jursa said.

But, said Gilmartin, “If it was your car, you would not put new tires on a rust bucket.”

While residents spoke in favor and against keeping Colfax open, some criticized the board for not having a full plan for the school's future.

“For the love of God, put a plan together and give it to us,” resident Carla Sims said. “I don't know if I'm for or against. There's not information to look at and make an educated decision.”

Pollino said how the board went about making the decision was the problem. He said Colfax could be a money pit, and the district could end up paying more to fix it than a full renovation or building a new school there.

“We don't have solid numbers. We just have a lot of opinion,” he said. “The information just isn't there to do this in a right way.

“Let's put a plan together — this is what we're going to do and do it right,” Pollino said.

Pollick said Cesareo Sanchez, the district's supervisor of buildings and grounds, and representatives of the district's architectural firm, Canzian/Johnston & Associates, will do a walk-through of the school and prioritize its needs. The board Thursday approved paying Canzian/Johnston & Associates about $13,000 for its services to date on the roof project.

The district has estimated the cost of keeping Colfax open at about $6.4 million, about $2.2 million more than the option of closing it and moving its students to Acmetonia Primary School. The cost includes about $305,000 in work at the district's high school.

Puskar, who favors closing Colfax, chided the board for a lack of transparency and keeping information from the public. He said the board has not considered the educational impact, and the district runs the risk of multiple years of tax increases to pay for repairs at Colfax.

While students get a good education at Colfax, “I believe we can do that as well or better in an efficient, two-building approach,” Puskar said.

But Haas said she doesn't want sixth-grade students to be with kindergartners; she also doesn't want them at the high school, another option that had been considered.

While early financing options have called for using money from technology and retirement funds along with new borrowing, Pollick said he will suggest the district not borrow any more money for work at Colfax.

Pollick said there's enough money in those funds to take some out with no ill effect.

“We can get a lot of things done at Colfax that were deferred maintenance for many years,” he said.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or

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