New High School Construction Discussion

Regular Meeting – January 19, 2023

I Addressed The Board During Public Comment With My Thoughts:

PCO 5 proposes substituting concrete in lieu of asphalt for 250,000 square feet of planned paving.  This change would result in an increased cost of $131,000.  I believe this is a wise decision.  When laid properly, concrete has a substantially greater life span than asphalt, typically two to four times longer.  In addition concrete will support heavier traffic and is more resistant to degradation.

PCO 2 proposes substituting a 60 mil single ply TPO in lieu of the specified fleece-backed EDPM according to Dr. Berger.  This change would result in a decreased cost of $95,000.  I do not believe this to be a good decision.

Keeping it in as simple terms as possible, an EDPM roofing membrane is made from rubber (often including recycled tires) whereas TPO and PVC roofs are made from plastics.  All of these roofing membranes will have similar lifespans and can be fleece-backed.

My concern is not with the roofing membrane material.  Although each has their short list of pros and cons, they are all suitable for this project.  My concern is with the elimination of the fleece backing and the thickness of the membrane material.

What is fleece-backing?  If you’ve ever worn a pair of fleece lined jeans or leggings, you’re already familiar with the concept.  As these roofing membranes are concerned, a fleece matting is unified with the membrane during the extrusion process.  Why are roofing manufacturers adding fleece to their membranes?  The fleece adds insulative properties (ENERGY STAR), increases the tear resistance by 33% (wind), and increases the puncture resistance by 33% (hail) compared to a non-backed membrane.  When adhered to the substrate in lieu of mechanical fastening, a fleece-backed roof membrane is simply one of the best roofing material options.

When I addressed the board with these concerns it didn’t appear that any of the members had any idea what I was talking about.  One member did perform a Google search during the meeting and brought it up during the discussion prior to the vote.  This is concerning to me for a variety of reasons:

  • Our school district has not always had good luck with roofs
  • The roof is one of the most important aspects of any structure
  • Replacing a failed roof is very expensive
  • Proposed price reduction is only 2/10 of 1% of the project cost
  • Board members are not researching topics prior to votes
  • Discussion is limited and uninformed
  • Long term, high impact decisions are being made absent reliable information

The board member who spent 40 seconds (their words) to Google my concerns did formulate a question during discussion as it relates to using a fleece-backed membrane:  “Is it overdoing it?”

We can look right here in our own school district to answer that question.

Wright City Middle School was constructed in 2004 on plans approved by the Board.  By 2014 the standing seam metal roof was failing, and the building was suffering water intrusion and damage as a result.  Our district approved a bid from Missouri Builders to remediate the failed 10-year-old roof which included a 20 year material and labor warranty.

“The Wright City School Board, Superintendent, and Director of Maintenance made the decision to re-cover the existing roof with a Carlisle SynTec Systems FleeceBACK Kee HP PVC adhered roofing system”

“Wright City Middle School’s decision to go with Carlisle’s FleeceBACK KEE HP PVC membrane adhered with Flexible FAST Adhesive was based on a number of reasons. FleeceBACK KEE HP PVC membrane is heat-weldable, allowing for reduced construction time and reduced noise during installation. The product offers high wind uplift performance, excellent fire resistance, and meets ENERGY STAR qualification guidelines.

The motion to approve this change order passed 6-0


UPDATE – February 1, 2023


Did the Board make a fully informed decision?

The video above contains two segments of the Board Meeting.  The first portion contains my public comments and concerns, with the second consisting of Dr. Berger’s presentation to the Board and the subsequent discussion regarding the upgrade to TPO from EDPM roofing membrane despite the loss of the fleece backing.

Here is what I discovered.

Original roofing  material specification provided by architect to companies bidding on the High School project:

Statement from a supplier:

Original bid from roofing contractor:

Bid for change order from roofing contractor:

After all of this discussion regarding EDPM vs. TPO membranes, the EDPM was never involved according to three independent parties involved with this project.

The architect’s originally specified product was an 80 mil TPO with 55 mil of fleece backing for a total thickness of 135 mil.

The 135 mil fleece backed TPO was the product the roofing contractor included in their bid from the beginning.

The change order voted upon by the board reduces the roofing membrane material thickness to 60 mil from 80, a decrease of 25%.

This change order also eliminates the fleece backing resulting in an overall decrease in thickness of 56%.

This was not an upgrade as sold to the board, but a downgrade.  Will this switch ultimately have a detrimental impact?  Will saving money now cost us more in the future?  I believe that all Board votes should be based on accurate information, and that Board Members should perform their due diligence and investigate these topics prior to Board Meetings.  Should I earn your vote this April, know that this is my normal approach.

UPDATE – August 22, 2023


Water Main Encroachment: