The aging roof on old Payson High School gymnasium will be replaced in the next few months thanks to funds the school district has received from the Arizona State Schools Facilities Board.
Word that the board had approved the project surfaced during a June 29 meeting of the facilities board that was attended by Payson Unified School District Superintendent Casey O’Brien and Director of Maintenance and Transportation Todd Poer.
“We had been placed on the agenda as part of a small list of emergency deficiency items to be considered for funding,” said O’Brien.
At the meeting, the pair presented the district’s case for replacing the entire roof and ceiling due to an 8-foot crack that had prompted district officials to shut down the gymnasium in January while temporary repairs were made.
An elated O’Brien returned from the board meeting saying, “I’m happy to report the SFB voted to approve and fund the emergency remediation of replacing the entire roof and ceiling.”
Because the project will be state-funded it must go up for bid, which will determine the total cost.
O’Brien said the facilities board estimates the cost would be about $700,000, but some in the district believe it can be done for less.
The next step for the district is to work with the Valley firm Architectural Research Team (ART) to begin the planning stages.
First on the agenda, O’Brien said, “Is to create a design and build schedule and put together a construction bid proposal.
“This will be a fairly complex project and will create some degree of disruption for PE and (sports) practices.”
Such was the case in January when the basketball court portion of the gym was shut down and off limits to students.
That forced then-boys PE teacher Bill Goodwin and girls physical education teacher Kelly Krieg to hold classes either in the two old gym weight rooms or outside on the track.
Those students who had lockers in the two basement locker rooms on the east side of the gym had to be reassigned others.
Either Goodwin or Krieg had to escort students across the gym floor beneath the crack when they entered the building to clean out their lockers.
At the time, Goodwin said closing the gym was a huge inconvenience, but was necessary in the interest of student safety.
Closing the gym also meant freshmen and junior varsity basketball teams could no longer play or practice there. Then-PHS athletic director Rob Varner, also the principal at Julia Randall Elementary School, moved games and practices to the new gym facility at JRE.
After an engineer inspected the roof and ceiling it was decided there were no structural issues and students could return if repairs were made. Those began almost immediately as district workers made repairs that included “stitching” across the drywall crack with 8-foot, 1-by-6 timbers.
An engineer recommended the repair method, but O’Brien stressed “the only permanent remedy for the cracking is to replace the roof, ceiling support structure and the ceiling.
While it’s a given classes will be disrupted during the upcoming repairs, it will be for the entire building and not just the basketball court area as was the case in January, O’Brien says, “the end result will be worth the temporary inconvenience.”
The superintendent expects a timeline for the project to be completed by mid July.
He also credits Superintendent for Business Services Bobette Tomerlin and Poer for “following up with our insurance company to get an engineering assessment that basically designated this problem as an emergency deficiency.
“Out of slightly over $2 million dollars available for emergency deficiencies in all schools in Arizona we were fortunate to see our large project fully funded.” Had the project not been approved, a future snow load in excess of 10 pounds per square foot, which equates to two feet of snow, would have forced officials to close the gym until the snow melted.