Ferry BOE approves roof bid

District has law firm investigating roof failures

T-L Photo/SHELLEY HANSON MARTINS FERRY Board of Education members Dorothy Powell, left, and Bill Suto chat with other board members before Monday’s special meeting.

MARTINS FERRY — The Martins Ferry City Schools Board of Education on Monday approved a $7 million bid to replace the roofs on both of its school buildings.

Board members Brian McFarland, Dorothy Powell, Scott Ballint and Bill Suto unanimously approved the bid from Mansuetto Roofing and Sheet Metal of Martins Ferry. The $7,075,800 bid was recommended for approval by a consulting company, Mays.

Mays was hired to determine which company would do not only the least expensive work, but also the best work. Others bidders included Kelley Brothers at $7,639,000; RAME at $6,450,000; and Kalkreuth at $7,156,300.

The new roofs are expected to last 20 years and will be made of a PVC-based material.

“I read through everything quite extensively and this looks like what should have happened the first time 11 years ago,” Suto said, referencing the roofs’ leak problems during the past decade.

Superintendent Jim Fogle said Mansuetto’s references were “impeccable.”

Suto, who is water superintendent for the city of Martins Ferry, said the city has learned over the years that the lowest bidders is not always the best bidder.

“We have since learned that you have to go with the lowest and most responsible bidder,” Suto said.

“Our hands were tied. We didn’t have the option of going with the most responsible bidder,” Ballint said of the board’s decision years ago. “There was no option for that.”

After the special meeting, the board noted it has hired a law firm, Bricker and Eckler of Columbus, to investigate who is at fault for the current roofs’ failures. The firm is tasked with trying to determine if it was the fault of the designers/engineers, the roofing companies, subcontractors or manufacturers of the shingles and materials used.

The board said the current roofs began having problems about a year after they were installed about a decade ago. Superintendent Jim Fogle could not remember offhand the names of all the companies involved or being investigated, but he noted MKC Architects was one of the designers at the time.

MKC Architects officials could not be reached Monday for comment.

“It’s to the point where the cost to repair is going to be quite substantial with no guarantee as to fixing the problem because we have been patching it for the past 10-11 years. There are leaks all through the buildings, garbage cans collecting water — water all over the place,” Fogle said.

Fogle said the lawyers investigating for the school district are working to determine who may be at fault; no related lawsuits have been filed. Suto noted that although the investigation is not complete, it appears the original design of the roof may be to blame.

However, since there were so many different firms working on the buildings, it is hard to determine.

“That’s why we have our legal counsel taking the lead on this, because it was such a massive project,” Fogle said.

“We couldn’t possibly point to one or the other on this, that’s why we hired legal counsel,” Ballint added.

The board noted the Ohio School Facilities Commission was a major player in the decision of who to hire for the original construction project since it covered 75 percent of the cost of the new schools.

Suto noted one of the reasons the district hired Mays Consulting was to make sure the district did its “due diligence” in hiring a roofing company.

“They’re the experts, so we’re going with their word on this,” Suto said of the bid recommendation.

Ballint also noted that though the board of education had to approve the companies working to construct the new buildings 11 years ago, there were strict guidelines put in place by the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

“We were limited in the decision making we had. It was what it was. There wasn’t a lot of flexibility. They’re giving the money and they’re going to keep control of the decisions,” Ballint said.