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More construction decisions reviewed by PUSD

The Plumas Unified School District was all set to remove three portable buildings and reroof four others at Chester Elementary on July 12 when the school board had second thoughts.

Although making the best use of Measure B money is the board’s primary concern, the board is also interested in the longevity of everything that gets built and that the district’s campuses look inviting to everyone, including prospective parents.

A majority of Plumas County voters approved the Measure B tax measure last November to fix deteriorating school buildings.

In the end, the board decided to postpone doing anything for now with portable buildings at both Chester and Quincy elementary schools until architects have a chance to develop master plans for the two campuses

The board also discussed what to do with portables at other schools, imminent repairs to the Greenville High School gym and how to keep construction going when contracts need changes.

Discussion about portables

Ray Bakker, new supervisor of maintenance and operations, and Daniel Malugani, Measure B contract manager, looked at the Chester Elementary portables and decided that some were in good enough shape to reroof and keep using.

However, school board members Leslie Edlund, Joleen Cline and Traci Holt questioned what the overall vision was for the Chester Elementary in terms of how the campus should look and function. They didn’t think that dilapidated portable buildings fit that vision or were worth the expense of reroofing.

The board members noted that four steel engineered modules were grouped together into a quad, including bathrooms, at C. R. Carmichael Elementary in Portola and that the modules have worked out beautifully.

They observed that teachers naturally started working together and that small children no longer needed to walk long distances alone to the main building to go to the bathroom.

Flat roofs and snow

Board member Dwight Pierson questioned the wisdom of having flat-roofed portables in areas that receive a lot of snow.

Besides costing $15,800 to reroof, he noted that warranties, on things like roofs, do not always accomplish what they promise.

Pierson, who was a superintendent of schools in Iowa before retiring, noted that the amount reimbursed by manufacturers is prorated based on the time since construction. At the same time, he said, prices for materials and labor continue to increase. In the end, he concluded, you don’t have the money you need to redo the work.

What would you do?

Finally, Pierson asked Malugani, “If these portables were your buildings, would you reroof them?” Malugani answered, “No.”

The district signed master contracts with two architectural and engineering firms: Nichols, Melburg & Rossetto Architects and PBK Architects. It was decided that nothing would be done about the Chester and Quincy elementary portables until the architects drew up master plans for the two school sites.


Malugani said there are three portables at the front of Chester Elementary that were going to removed and four portables at the back of the school that were going to be reroofed. He noted there are no portables at Chester High School, but that there are plans to build a permanent structure at the school.


Malugani said four portables at Quincy Elementary were going to be reroofed. At Quincy High School, four portables were scheduled for removal, because they are no longer needed. The board does not want portable buildings re-roofed just to be used for storage.


C.Roy Carmichael Elementary is the district’s newest campus composed mostly of portable buildings. Malugani said six portables at C.Roy Carmichael and three at Portola High are scheduled to be reroofed.


Malugani said there are no portables at Indian Valley Elementary. The plan is to re-roof the single portable at Greenville High.

Greenville High School gym

The floor, roof and sidewalls of the Greenville High School gym were water damaged.

Malugani and Bakker found that the edge of the gym roof was constructed improperly and was leaking water into the gym’s walls. They predicted that contractors would find water damage when they opened up walls for repairs.

They found that the center of the roof was undamaged, which would save the district money.

The perimeter of the main roof will be redesigned and rebuilt with multilayered material. The lower level of the gym will be replaced with a single-ply thermoplastic roof.

Gutters will be built around the perimeter of the gym with water exiting the roof via pipes located on the exterior of the building.

Contractors are going to add fill material to the back of the gym and grade it away from the building so that water will flow away from the building.

Storm drains, that carry storm water away from the gym, will be relocated from underneath the gym to locations farther away from the building.

The floor, which suffered moisture damage, is being replaced. Malugani hopes that contractors can start reconstruction of the gym soon.

When obstacles come up

Pierson said that contracts need to be changed sometimes as conditions change.

He said, change orders have to be made immediately or the contractor, who has to keep his workers busy, will leave for another job site. “And when that happens,” Pierson said, “It’s hell to get them back.”

Pierson noted that two solutions are possible: First, allow the superintendent to make work order changes up to a given dollar amount.

Second, create a subcommittee from the school board that can work with the superintendent to make decisions about more expensive changes.

Building it right

Pierson said, “When I do something, I like to do it right.” The board agreed with Pierson’s intent to ensure that “all our facilities will be in good shape 20 to 30 years down the road.”

Pierson proclaimed, “Preventative maintenance could have prevented all this damage. He repeated earlier statements, “We need to have a preventative maintenance plan for everything we own. We need to become proactive in protecting our investments.”

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