DOBSON — The Surry County and Mount Airy school systems are struggling with what they call “urgent” capital needs, and have asked the county for help.
While it is early in the impending budget process, the two school systems presented their wish-list of needed improvements to the county’s board of commissioners during the board’s annual retreat recently.
The board is expected to take the list under consideration during this year’s budget cycle, which will get under way in earnest in the coming months.
The county school system broke its requests down into three categories, needed capital improvements, campus safety issues and campus security.
Under the capital, or brick-and-mortar, needs, the county identified four items it said is urgently needed:
• Roof improvements at North Surry High School. The system said the roof is 23 years old and that insulation has began to release from the roof due to moisture intrusion. School officials also say the waterproof membrane is beginning to deteriorate. The estimated costs to improve the roof, depending on what is done, range from $265,000 to $640,000.
• Roof improvements at Flat Rock Elementary School. The system says the roof is 29 years old and has leaking skylights, and the way the waterproof membrane was originally applied “increases the difficulty in making repairs.” School officials believe a total replacement will be necessary to bring the roof up to energy code. Estimates for the replacement range from $245,000 to $270,000.
• Roof improvements at Franklin Elementary School. The roof serving classrooms and the cafeteria at Franklin Elementary School is 29 years old, and officials say they have discovered asbestos in the asphalt coating on the roof and a complete asbestos abatement will have to be conducted prior to the roof replacement. Estimates range from $280,000 to $465,000.
• Replacement of a chiller unit to the HVAC system at East Surry High School. The current model, made in 1976, is 38 years old and workers are having trouble finding replacement parts. The unit experienced a compressor failure in 2011 and technicians must continue to monitor coolant levels due to a “slow leak.” The estimated cost to replace the unit is $75,000.
The school system also said a high priority capital need is an intercom system at Dobson Elementary School. The estimated cost for the system is $30,000.
Campus safety issues the county school system describes as “extremely urgent” include stadium bleachers at East Surry High School and gymnasium bleachers at Central Middle School.
School officials said the bleachers at the high school do not meat federal and state safety guidelines or comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. They estimate the cost to upgrade the bleachers at the high school at $50,000.
The gymnasium bleachers at Central Middle School are 23 years old, and recently underwent a safety inspection, where it was recommended they be replaced due to worn steel infrastructure. The estimated cost to replace the middle school’s bleachers is $55,000.
Under campus security issues, the school system is requesting $20,000 for window coverings in all county classrooms in order to better secure children in the event of a lockdown.
The system is also requesting $200,000 for security cameras throughout the school system, $235,000 for keyless access systems, $10,000 for emergency lockdown buttons and $130,000 for more secure doors and hardware.
Mount Airy City Schools
Mount Airy City Schools’ simply sent the county an itemized list of requested capital improvement needs, but officials there identified three needs as “urgent.”
These include the replacement of a cooling tower at Jones Intermediate School at an estimated cost of $125,000, the replacement of an HVAC unit at Mount Airy Middle School ($100,000), and the purchase of HVAC components at Tharrington Primary School ($100,000).
Other improvements they said will be needed “soon” include boiler replacements at Jones Intermediate, Tharrington Primary and Mount Airy High schools, with the boilers expected to cost around $15,000 each.
Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.