A representative for Baltimore City Public Schools says administrators plan to put a “luxury designer shingle” on the roof of Roland Park Elementary/Middle School and don’t intend to use the historically-appropriate clay tiles that the community prefers.
The school roof must be replaced for the second time in two years, administrators say, because it was damaged during the 29–inch snow storm in January. Contractors erected scaffolding around the school last month in preparation for the repairs.
In a May 6 letter to the Roland Park Elementary/Middle School community, Chief Operating Officer J. Keith Scroggins said the school system has found a “luxury designer shingle” that is guaranteed to last 50 years – twice as long as most asphalt shingles that need to be replaced every 20 years.
Scroggins said in his letter that the primary concern of City Schools is the safety of the school’s students, staff, administrators and visitors, after the roof was damaged in January and tiles began falling off. The roof was completed less than six months before the storm.
Scroggins said the school system wants to replace the roof in time for the start of the next school year in August. He warned that “any delays resulting from consideration of other contractors, different materials, or construction methods may jeopardize our ability to obtain the necessary approvals to complete this project in a timely manner.”
Directors of the Roland Park Civic League voted 12 to 0 last week to support a plan to use historically appropriate clay tiles similar to those installed on the school originally and on the school right now, not asphalt shingles. Area preservationists also say clay tiles are preferable for the school at 5207 Roland Avenue, which dates from 1924. They say asphalt shingles will not last as long or fit in with the school’s architecture as well.
The roof replacement plan is expected to be discussed at the school board meeting today.
Here is the full text of the May 6 letter from Scroggins:
Dear Roland Park Elementary/Middle School Community,
Recently, City Schools has received a number of letters from parents and community members regarding the roof replacement project at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School (RPEMS). The letters express concerns about the construction project, the quality of the roofing materials, the use of taxpayer dollars and whether Baltimore City Public Schools (City Schools) will hold the contractors accountable for this project.
Let me assure you that the replacement of the roof at Roland Park is a top priority for City Schools. We are committed to ensuring that the roof replacement is of the highest quality and will serve the school well for decades to come.
After conferring with my staff, I would like to provide the following facts in response to concerns raised by members of the community:
- The primary concern of City Schools is the safety of the students, staff, administrators and visitors to RPEMS, which was compromised once tiles began falling from the roof. The initial group of tiles that fell landed inside the pre-kindergarten playground; fortunately, there were no children in the area at that time.Since that day, other tiles continued to fall. Our facility staff immediately contacted one of our on-call roofing contractors to erect scaffolding and netting as a safety precaution. We moved quickly to begin a removal of the tile and replacement with a premium architectural shingle.
- We cannot remove and replace individual tiles from this roof. According to a report by our consultant, the problems that caused the tile to break and fall requires removal of the entire roof. Therefore, we cannot fix the roof by removing and replacing individual tiles. A copy of this report has been provided to representatives from the Wyndhurst Community Association, the Roland Park Community Association and the RPEMS principal.
- The architectural shingle that City Schools has selected to replace the tile roof is a luxury designer shingle that has a 50-year warranty. It is a premium grade shingle with a thicker textured appearance that is equal to the asphalt shingle that was originally specified by the architect and approved by the Maryland Historical Trust.
- It is imperative that we get this project underway and completed before the opening of school in August. Any delays resulting from consideration of other contractors, different materials, or construction methods may jeopardize our ability to obtain the necessary approvals to complete this project in a timely manner.
- The City Schools’ Office of Legal Counsel has been engaged to ensure accountability for the taxpayer dollars that have been expended on this project. They are actively engaged with the surety company for the contractors during the past year, and they will continue to work on behalf of City Schools for a proper resolution.
I hope that this letter offers greater clarity regarding this project. I thank you all for the passion that has been shown on behalf of the students and the Roland Park community. If you have any additional questions concerning this matter please feel free to contact me at [email protected].
Keith Scroggins Chief Operating Officer
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