WCPS has plan to eliminate $50 million in deferred maintenance

October 22, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY ? Washington County Public Schools officials say they could eliminate a $50 million backlog of maintenance projects in five years if they had an additional $13.6 million each year.

Michael Peplinski, director of school maintenance and operations, said the Washington County Commissioners have given the school system an additional $2 million to $3 million each of the past two years for deferred maintenance projects.

"They have recognized that we have had a problem, and they've been trying to help us out, more than the state," he said.

Maintenance projects include roofing, heating, air conditioning, lighting, flooring and plumbing.

At one time, the school system had about $90 million in backlogged maintenance, but that has been trimmed to $49.1 million.


School officials recently told the commissioners that they could eliminate all of their outstanding maintenance needs in five years with $13.6 million annually.

Peplinski said $4.5 million is needed annually to keep from adding more projects to the list of deferred maintenance. About $9.1 million would be needed annually to eliminate the current list in five years, he said.

"I'm just trying to have them remember that we are building new schools, but you can't take all of the money out of the maintenance of the old schools to build the new schools," Peplinski said.

He said some projects were removed because they were replacements or repairs at schools that are being replaced. Pangborn and Maugansville elementary schools will be torn down, and replacement schools are scheduled to open in 2008.

He said many heating and cooling systems have exceeded their life expectancy.

"We can't get parts for all of the heating systems we have," Peplinski said. "The equipment is up and running right now, but it's unsupported. I can't get parts for it. We need to do something soon."

School officials said all needs that are considered safety hazards are corrected first. For example, condemned bleachers were replaced quickly.

"When something reaches its age limit, you can either live without it or fix it, or hope it doesn't break," Peplinski said. "We have some air handlers that are 38 years old, and their life expectancy is only 20 years."

By the numbers

$49.1 million ? Cost of Washington County Public Schools' total deferred maintenance projects

$4.5 million ? Amount needed annually to keep from adding more to deferred maintenance projects

$9.1 million ? Amount needed to cut current deferred maintenance projects to zero in five years

$13.6 million ? Amount needed per year to reduce deferred maintenance projects to zero and to perform required yearly maintenance

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