Why are we running as a block for School Board?

As a group of concerned citizens, all with kids in this district at some point, we watched the actions of the current board over the years, and asked ourselves a very simple question: “Are they giving or doing their best to the teachers and kids of Columbia?”

The answer, in our view, has been, “no.” This school board needs a jump start. It needs an infusion of “new blood” to get our district back to focusing on the things that will benefit all students, provide the education they deserve and fully support our teachers.

We are individual thinkers running as a group because we each unique skill sets and a shared vision for what this district can and should become. More than anything it’s about making the teachers and students the priority again. We need to be spending our money on professional development for our teachers. We should be providing workshops and other such resources for them. They need basic tools like textbooks, wall charts, and lab equipment. We need to prioritize and work with teachers and parents to correct the issues facing Special Education. Bring back the curriculum coordinator position at the district level to help support and enhance the great work our teachers are doing in the classroom.

Instead, during some of our most challenging financial times, many on the current board were more focused on special projects rather than improving the education of our children. This is unacceptable. Approximately two-thirds of our property taxes go directly to our schools, and we need to make sure we are spending those tax dollars wisely. They may be great people, but some lack the desire or expertise to do what is needed. This should always be about educating our kids.

These misguided priorities need to be adjusted and by electing all of us as a group, the residents of Columbia have the ability to put the focus back on teachers and students.

This election is about doing away with the status quo. A vote for our team is a vote for independent voices with no connection, obligation or debts to the bureaucrats in the district office. It also allows our administration to be held accountable by the school board as intended. Putting Tammy Mitchell Hines, Cress Morr, Greg Meyer, and Lisa Schumacher on the board will reclaim leadership of Columbia’s school district for the people of Columbia.

Thank you for your consideration!

Tammy, Cress, Greg and Lisa

A Message From Greg

Roof Project

When I decided to run for the school board, I thought they could probably use someone with real world business experience.  It didn’t take long to confirm my suspicion when they brought up a million-dollar plus roofing project and no one even flinched.  This roof project is a prime example of what we are trying to convey to the voter about transparency, asking questions and allowing public input. We love our schools and teachers, but these are the types of situations where we can make significant improvements to our current situation and preserve valuable resources.  Most people do not understand the roofing issue and none of the board members seemed to have much experience in this field.  Even our superintendent admitted during the meeting she did not know much about roofing and she was the one fielding the questions!  Had they simply allowed the manufacture’s rep to speak, or both company representatives (as both were present and would be my preference) we could have avoided this massive mistake.  We all have much to learn and can’t be expected to know everything, but when we are not familiar with something the board and administration both have a duty to reach out to experts and educate themselves.  I have led several catastrophe teams and been on hundreds, if not thousands of roofs and am still learning.  This is exactly why I propose forming committees to look into and take the time required to make informed decisions on these huge dollar projects.  I was shocked when the replacement of the roof was mentioned during the February board meeting and there was barely any discussion.  Tammy asked if there were other bids and was told some reason why competitive bidding was not required.  (I still have a hard time believing this was correct) I decided to look into the matter myself, as a taxpayer.  The warranty company for the Parkview roof agreed to meet with me to discuss the matter. They were disturbed to hear other roofers talking about replacing their 12-year-old roof with 15-20 years of useful life remaining.  They are proud of the product they produce and are more than willing to stand behind it.  The main focus is the section comprising 40% of the total roof which is currently a four layer built up quality commercial roof being replaced with a 17-year inferior rubber roof.  Tremco is the actual manufacturer of the roof and has provided the materials for several of our other buildings and countless other districts.  They are not just a roofer Tammy pulled in off the street.  I was shown an email Tremco sent to our District in 2017, frustrated our superintendent would not allow his company on the roof to do the maintenance and repairs we already paid for. The warranty company was baffled by this decision and tried to clarify there was absolutely no additional cost involved.  I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and thought surely this just had to be a case of miscommunication.  The warranty company thought the exact same thing and sent Ryan with Tremco to meet with our superintendent.  Ryan was told in person “we don’t have any roof projects for three years”. He knew that wasn’t true but rather than argue with her, he left.  They felt it would be best to address the board directly during the public comment section of the March meeting.  We all felt something just didn’t seem quite right and it still makes absolutely no sense.  Upon further investigation, I learned when this section of our roof was installed, the warranty provided was 10 years.  They now include a 20-year warranty on these types of roofs.  Tremco offered to extend our warranty by an additional 10 years for a very nominal cost and was turned down.  They even renewed the offer for us to purchase the 10 year extended warranty for less than $10,000 (less than 1% of the proposed cost of the project) at the March meeting!  It could even cost less, but again they have not been allowed to inspect the roof.  When they reach the roof discussion on the agenda, Tremco was not allowed to speak.  They told him he should have gone through the superintendent and he tried to tell them he did and even had copies of the emails to prove it.  They refused to allow him to provide any information.  The superintendent did announce CTS was in attendance if anyone had a question for them. Tremco advised me no one has reported any leaks to them.  It was also not identified on our comprehensive inspection study performed last summer to identify needs coming up in the next 10 years.  The February vote was just to amend the study to include the roof.  The extended warranty was a “no brainer” as it would save our district nearly $400,000 (40% of $1,000,000+ cost approved to replace the entire roof).  Obviously with a warranty, if that portion of the roof (over the district offices) leaks as the superintendent claims, then Tremco will fix for FREE for the next 10 years!!  To better understand, this situation is comparable to the shingles on your house failing after just 12 years.  Instead of allowing the manufacturer of the shingles to warranty their product, (repair or replace) you decided to have someone else come in, remove the shingles and put a tarp on your roof.  No one in their right mind would do that, but is exactly what they voted to do!  We always have the possibility of damage not covered such as from the actions of a third party.  An example of this would be things like the recent installation of the geothermal system. Did anyone check to see if the geothermal installer may have damaged the roof or caused the leak?  In these cases the warranty company will inspect (if we let them) to make sure no damages were caused by the contractor.  If damages are discovered, the company causing the damage would be obligated to fix it. There are also much better and cost savings options for the remaining 60% of the roof available with huge additional benefits, but this is already too long.  I just absolutely hate seeing almost $400,000 and most likely much more, completely wasted and putting the building in a worse position than currently exists.  That money could have paid for so many wonderful things for this district.  But, we did save time not discussing it, obtaining our own bids, getting a second opinion or just doing a little homework!  At every board meeting I attend, I cringe when I hear “we didn’t get bids because they are not required”.  Is this really how you want them to spend your tax dollars?

3-30-2019 Update

The administration sent a letter to all parents.  As I welcome input and want to understand both sides, their response is as follows:

In 2013, the district’s architect conducted a roof assessment for all facilities. The assessment was completed by a licensed engineer who specialized in roofing. The engineer’s recommendations were utilized for planning and budgeting future roof
projects. The roof identified most in need of replacement was the Parkview roof. In
2018, a second opinion was obtained by CTS, the company that completed the geothermal systems at Eagleview and Parkview. The CTS engineer confirmed the poor condition of the majority of the roof, specifically the EPDM roof and a portion of the Modified Bitumen roof. (The roof is comprised of two roofing systems.) CTS shared the roofing analysis with the board and attended the February 21st board meeting to answer any questions. The recommendation was to replace the roof in its entirety so Parkview would have a unified roofing system with a 30 year roof and warranty. The board approved project at the March 21st meeting.

I have not been on our roof or even hinted there are not problems, leaks or the need to replace the remaining 60% as indicated above.  There seems to be miscommunication from the start.  CTS contract also stated the roof was 20+ years old (it was 12) and was not under warranty.  They were obviously not told a warranty extension was offered.  Here is an excerpt from the roofing contract:

Existing Roof Membranes:  

The existing roofs are 20+ years old.   The original warranty has expired.

My entire point is the warranty, which was not addressed in the above statement.  However, I now have more questions.  If the roof was deemed to be deficient in 2013, why was the warranty company not notified or allowed to inspect or repair the roof.  At that time, it would have still been under the original warranty.  There still remains the possibility the installation of the geothermal system may have compromised the roof.  (Just to be clear, this is only speculation and I have no way of knowing and am NOT making accusations) From what I gather from this statement, CTS installed the geothermal system, inspected the roof, obtained their own bids (not shared with the board members) and won the contract to replace 100% of the roof, including the 40% part Tremco offered an extended warranty. I have also briefly reviewed the new roofing contract.  I did not see any mention of a 30-year warranty, but did find CTS provides a 1-year warranty.  The following is from the actual contract:

CTS further warrants that the Work will conform to the requirements of the Agreement and shall be free from defects in materials and workmanship, including installation and setup, for a period of one (1) year from the date of beneficial use or substantial completion of the equipment or portion of the Work in question, provided that no repairs, substitutions, modifications, or additions have been made, except by CTS or with CTS’s written permission, and provided that after delivery such equipment or materials have not been subjected by non-CTS personnel to accident, neglect, misuse, or use in violation of any instructions supplied by CTS.  CTS shall be required to repair promptly or replace defective equipment or materials at CTS’s expense. 

Another section does read if we request, they can assign the manufacturer’s warranty, but I could not find any details of this warranty.  So we are back to a manufacturer’s warranty, pretty much the same as Tremco, that we don’t want?  I have never seen a 30-year warranty on this type of roof ever.  It may be possible, but why is it not stated in the contract?  Here is that language:

at CUSTOMER’s request, assign to CUSTOMER any and all manufacturer’s, installer’s, or other special warranties for equipment or materials not manufactured by CTS and provided as part of the Work, to the extent that such third-party warranties are assignable.

The last point I would like to bring to your attention is the price.  Per the contract:

The price for the Work is One Million, One Hundred Thirty Thousand, Eight Hundred Fifty-Four Dollars ($1,130,854), subject to Articles 5, 7 and 14.  Final contract contingent on ISBE approval of H/LS Amendment for Parkview Elementary Roof Replacement.

 The minutes have not been released but in rough numbers was $80,000.00 more than approved.  Does our district have a reputation of paying anything asked?  We also just agreed to spend $500,000 on bleachers when we expected $450,000.  I am not saying this was also a wrong decision, but sometimes we need to step back and consider our options.  Sometimes it is not best to just take the easy way out, especially when it is tax payer money!