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Gainesville school board OKs funds for first roof repairs
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The Gainesville school board allocated $205,000 to reroof and clean the old gym at Gainesville High School and soon will decide whether it will build a new Fair Street IB World School.

The board unanimously allocated a portion of the $1.4 million leftover from the construction of the new $33 million Gainesville Middle School at its Monday work session.

The Gainesville High gym is one of the system’s five buildings that needs major roof repairs. Keith Vincent, manager of maintenance and operations for Gainesville schools, estimates it will cost $3.1 million total to replace or repair the roofs of the five buildings.

Gainesville Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said the board approved the gym roof replacement first because the gym is needed at Gainesville High and the task was manageable.

"It’s clearly something we can do and finish. We are going to get more background information before we allocate the rest of the money," she said of the remaining $1.2 million.

School board chairman David Syfan said Fair Street IB World School is the linchpin of solving the roof situation.

Dyer said it will cost the system about $7 million to bring the system’s oldest school building up to code. The building has electrical, waterproofing and plumbing issues.

The question is whether the board should spend $10 million to demolish the Fair Street building and construct a new one. Access to state funding is a major variable, which depends on an uncertain time line tied to the state’s economy.

The board could make a decision at its Nov. 16 board meeting. The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at the Gainesville schools central office at 508 Oak St.

After the board makes a decision on whether to build a new Fair Street school, the board must decide how much money to invest in Fair Street to allow students to stay safe and dry in the building until they can move into a different building. In addition, if Fair Street is to be demolished, the board is considering moving students to Wood’s Mill Academy, the old middle school building, until the new Fair Street school is built.

Dyer said if Fair Street students are moved to Wood’s Mill next year, the system could get more in state funding to build a new school. But that may cause Fair Street to operate from the makeshift location for at least two years, which could prove too long for residents of the community.

School board member Maria Calkins said the board wants input from parents of Fair Street students. She recommends parents contribute their thoughts through the system’s suggestion box at www.gcssk12.net.

"I think everyone’s gotten to the point that they realize it can’t be fixed," she said of Fair Street.

Dyer said once the board studies the time line for the reconstruction or repair of Fair Street, the board can determine how much it will allocate to roof repairs at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy and Wood’s Mill Academy.

She said the board likely will allocate $25,000 from its maintenance and operations fund to build a fence at Centennial Arts Academy to ensure student safety. About $20,000 remaining from a federal bond can be applied to Centennial’s roof repairs. Because of federal restrictions, Centennial is the only Gainesville school eligible for the funds.

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