This aerial shot of Dawson Elementary School in Allegan shows the area in red—at the south end of the building—where the roof will be replaced. The blue areas were bid but the district decided against doing the work at this time. (Graphic provided)

Part of Allegan's Dawson Elementary roof set for work

Ryan Lewis, Editor

An aging section of roof atop Dawson Elementary School will be replaced soon, the first of a series of projects paid for through the district’s new “sinking fund.”

At their meeting Monday, March 11, Allegan school board members approved an $89,000 bid from Myers Construction in Kalamazoo for the work.

School board president Troy Carns said, “I’m relieved the taxpayers approved the sinking fund so that we are able to finally redo this roof that has been in need of it for a while.”

The project will overlay a new waterproof membrane across approximately 10,000 square feet of roof at the southern end of the building. It sits atop an addition built in the early 1990s to then-house the special education classrooms. There will also be some work on that section’s eaves.

Superintendent Kevin Harness said that part of the school’s roof was relatively new during the last renovation for Dawson’s roof in 1998 and so was not replaced. Now it is among the oldest sections of roof in the district.

The work is expected to take a week and was originally slated for summer break; however, weather may allow for the work to be done during spring break in the first week of April.

It was the low bid between that company and Shain Roofing, which bid $97,000. Three other companies were sought but did not bid.

District director of finance and operations Amy Christman said the project was part of five years of planned renovations.

“It’s one of the biggest problems,” Christman said. “That’s why we selected it to start with. Each year, we’ll set aside funds for all of the district’s roofing needs.”

Nearby areas of the roof were bid as optional work, but the price was not low enough to justify doing work that was not strictly necessary.

“It was thought we could maybe see some economy of scale. When bids came in, that wasn’t there, so we’re holding off,” Christman said.


Sinking fund

In November 2017, voters narrowly passed a proposal that created a five-year, 1-mill tax; the money it collects is put in a sinking fund, and that money can be used to replace aging roofs and heating and cooling systems, repave parking lots, replace outdated computers and add other classroom technology.

While the first round of collection is still coming in, it is still expected to collect $498,127 for this first year. The money can carry over into multiple years if the district needs to save up for bigger-ticket items.

The Dawson roof project isn’t technically the first time the district has spent from the fund. As planned, the district used some of the funds to pay off the first year of a three-year payment plan on the 1,230 Chromebook notebook computers the district purchased last year for students. The computers are part of the district’s goal to have each student using their own computer at school.

Harness said there are several other projects planned for the money this year.

“We’re also redoing the main control panel for the fire alarm system,” Harness said. “And the (heating and cooling) control system for all the buildings—that’s very old and getting glitch. These aren’t really high-profile type things. But it’s much-needed.

“We probably won’t spend all of it this year.”

Carns said, “It’s just nice we have this sinking fund available now so we can take care of this (roof) without having to stress our already over-stressed budget.”


New officers

At their January meeting, school board members elected new board officers.

Elected in 2011, Carns is president. Lane Sturman is the new vice president, having taken office in 2015. Nathon Kelley, now treasurer, was appointed to fill a partial term in 2017 and was elected in 2018. KD Lake is board secretary and was first elected in 2017

Other board trustees include Mary Kasprzyk, Vicki Knuckles and Jennifer Nicholson.

Contact Ryan Lewis at or (269) 673-5534.


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