Schoolhouse rot

hammer sqThe School Board voted June 24 to allot up to $494,000 to replace Cahill Elementary School’s boiler.

The boiler has been called the “district’s highest priority” by board Vice President Tom Ham. During the 2013-2014 school year, custodial staff have had to spend large portions of their time in the basement keeping it running. Although the boiler could be rebuilt, many of the parts are no longer available, and rebuilding it would also not address the leaky heat exchanger.

The expense is the most urgently needed but not the only building expense up for consideration. Cahill Elementary’s sidewalks need to be replaced, and Riccardi needs a new roof and needs asbestos abatement around its plumbing.


The bluestone sidewalks at Cahill Elementary School have become uneven (in Ham’s words, “pitched and heaved”), causing a potentially hazardous situation. The estimate for replacing them with concrete sidewalks in order to level them, at $435,000, far exceeded the School Board’s expectations. Business Manager Lissa Jilek is meeting with a contractor from the Department of Transportation this month to find out if it can been done for less money.

Another concern is Riccardi Elementary’s roof, which has been deemed “beyond its useful life by at least a decade,” according to Ham. Before an accurate cost estimate can be made, a roof scan must be completed. This scan, which will determine the integrity of the substrate, is expected to cost approximately $2,000.

Plumbing leaks, also at Riccardi, when investigated, revealed asbestos covering approximately 60 of the fixtures. Although this is not considered a safety issue for students, it must be abated. The estimate the district has received for this work is approximately $30,000, which is also higher than expected. Dr. Michael O’Rourke, safety, health and risk management coordinator at Ulster BOCES, is “rethinking how to handle this,” since the fixtures cannot be abandoned in place.