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Frustration builds over lack of warranty for roof repairs at Sugar Grove school

Published: Friday, Aug. 2, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

SUGAR GROVE – As work continues on roof repairs at Kaneland John Shields Elementary School in Sugar Grove, two residents have asked the District 302 board for details about the warranty issued for the roof, which was installed in 1997.

District officials say the warranty document cannot be found. And with the estimated total cost of the project listed at $479,420, residents Jerry Elliott and Dan Nagle say the lack of a warranty will cost taxpayers a significant sum. And they want to be sure it doesn’t happen again with the current project.

“It’s just another indication of the school board not running a business as a business … and there is no consequence to that,” Elliott said. He said the board needs to make certain that the work being done now is protected by a warranty.

Elliott and Nagle were at Monday night’s school board meeting at Kaneland Harter Middle School. During the meeting, the board heard an update on the roof at John Shields, a school located at 85 S. Main St. in Sugar Grove. The roof was the same type that was installed at Kaneland John Stewart Elementary in Elburn, and with the same company. But there was a difference in the types of materials included at each site – treated lumber was used at Shields – and the materials used at Shields led to the extensive repairs being necessary.

Superintendent Jeff Schuler said the district is “extremely frustrated” about the situation with the warranty. He said his understanding is a 20-year warranty was issued, but that it cannot be located. Cheryl Krauspe, the school board’s president, said via email that a warranty “clearly does not exist.”

“Why a warranty was not delivered to the school district at the time is a question that unfortunately we may not have an answer to, as both the administrators and construction manager are no longer with their respective companies,” Krauspe wrote. She said the board and administration “are taking every available step to investigate the question and seek a remedy from the parties we believe should have been responsible for delivering that warranty.”

Schuler said the warranty “certainly would have covered a portion” of the repairs. On the current project, he said, the district will have a 20-year “water tightness” warranty.

Krauspe pointed out that there have been many significant building projects in the district, including a new middle school, an auditorium, additions at Kaneland High School and a storage facility at the middle school. To prevent such an incident from happening again, she said, the board will continue to seek and receive reports throughout the construction process.

“The board has taken an active role in ensuring that quality work is done,” she said. “The board has had many, many meetings and spent countless hours over the last nine years with architects and construction managers. That approach will not change.”

Also at issue is the timing of the roof project. It might extend into the school year, which begins Aug. 21. Board member Tony Valente said that would be unacceptable.

“I’m disappointed that it may impact the students’ learning at Shields,” Valente said at the meeting, adding that construction taking place during a school day is “incredibly distracting.”

Julie-Ann Fuchs, the district’s assistant superintendent for business, said officials were “going to do everything we can” to have the project completed on time “to meet Tony’s deadline, to meet our deadline.”

“It’s the kids’ deadline,” Valente said.

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