ECW school repairs expected to continue through 2023

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, February 9, 2022

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LAPLACE — All school sites in the St. John the Baptist Parish School District are expected to welcome students in August 2022 with the exception of Emily C. Watkins Elementary, which will require extensive repairs and a roof replacement as a result of Hurricane Ida.

With a need to redesign the roof up to current building codes, students will not be able to return to campus until 2023.

During a special meeting Monday night, the St. John Parish School Board authorized Yeates Mancil Architects to proceed with the design for the repairs.

Cindy Janecke of All South Consulting Engineers said the design process is critical to bringing students back in ECW classrooms by January 2023. She advised scheduling another special School Board meeting in March to award low bids on school repair projects in order to remain on schedule.

Yeates Mancil Architects LLC conducted site visits on four different days in December to assess architectural damages that occurred as a result of Hurricane Ida. The firm noted that building codes are more stringent today compared to when Emily C. Watkins was constructed in 2009.

The existing low-sloped metal roof does not include a metal deck with rigid insulation in the roof system as outlined in current building code requirements to withstand wind speeds of 145 miles per hour.

Photographs of the roof taken after the storm showed corrosion at the joints of the metal panels and failure of panels at certain areas around the perimeter, especially on the east and south sides of the roof. Additionally, the gutters, downspouts, roof edges and the ridge cap at the center of the roof appeared to have suffered damage. A number of metal panels failed during the storm, and the hood vent that exhausts the kitchen allowed water to leak into light fixtures.

A hurricane damage report from Yeates stated that welding or mechanically bolting a galvanized metal structure to the deck of the existing roof would “strengthen the entire roof system, assist with wind uplift and help to provide more roof protection to the school.”

The end product would be similar to the roof designed by Yeates for Lake Pontchartrain Elementary School, which was built in line with updated codes and held up better against Hurricane Ida’s winds.

According to the report, “It would be unfortunate to spend the time, money and effort to make all of the interior repairs and not make the effort to improve the roof system so that it would protect the school from future weather events.”

Interior work would include replacement of all of the acoustical ceiling tiles and insulation, reattachment and connection of wiring and ducts above the ceiling, classroom repairs, replacement of flooring, and kitchen and restroom repairs.

Janecke said the projected cost of the roof replacement to meet the current wind load rating comes in at $1 million above the current insurance coverage estimate. However, this project may be eligible for FEMA mitigation funding.

Yeates Mancil Architects LLC estimated the total project costs to be $4,475,488.87, which includes exterior, roofing and interior costs, grounds repair and engineering fees. The cost does not include mechanical or electrical repairs associated with existing HVAC damages and problems at the school.

Janecke said the HVAC would be addressed separately but in coordination with Yeates Mancil.

HVAC duct cleaning is currently underway, with an estimated completion date of March 25, 2022. Design and assessment of HVAC repairs, including estimated costs, will be shared after the initial duct cleaning is complete.

School Board members discussed the possibility of obtaining trailers to use as classroom space while repairs are completed.

Janecke said trailers are a possibility, but it would also involve a process of architectural design and going out to bid.

“If we are in need of trailers, we would need to bring that to FEMA immediately,” Janecke said.