District plans $150,000 fix to water issues

Additional work recommended at main offices

Lakeville Area School District officials are proposing about $150,000 of maintenance work at the district office this year after some offices were closed due to water damage and mold.

Several district offices have been damaged over the past two years from water seeping in through walls and ceilings, sometimes requiring new carpet, ceiling tiles and sheetrock.

Some staff have had to move out of their offices temporarily to fix seepage issues, and two offices have been closed off as mitigation work is underway.

An office previously occupied by Douglas Ninow, former student information specialist, has been closed, and a large green “Mr. Yuck” sign warns visitors to keep out.

Carpet, sheetrock, some ceiling tiles and insulation were removed from Ninow’s former office. Furniture is piled up and a fan was recently used to promote drying.

District Communications Director Linda Swanson said mold was found in some of the offices and steps have been taken to address it.

She said ceiling tiles have regularly been replaced due to water damage throughout the building, which was built in 1985.

The problem has also affected some of the upper level offices, including the office of Director of Teaching and Learning Barb Knudsen.

District Business Services Director Randy Anderson, whose office has also had some water damage, said water collects around the building’s foundation and pressure forces it to seep inside, traveling down walls and ceilings.

“We need to stop water from coming into the building,” Anderson told School Board members at a July 9 work session. “That’s our first course of action.”

To relieve the water pressure, the School Board is being asked to approve excavation down to the building’s foundation to the remove and replace existing waterproofing.

Workers would then install drain tile around the building’s foundation perimeter to collect and dispel water away from the building.

The proposal recommends draining water collected south on the property to an area between the hockey rinks, but Board Member Bob Erickson said that channel overflows under any significant rainfall.

An alternative option is to drain the water into the city’s storm sewer.

Consultant Dan Fitch, project manager with the Institute for Environmental Assessment, said drainage options will be studied before work is performed to ensure it will work.

Board members will also consider a second phase of action in 2014-15 to address the building’s water issues by having the vinyl wallpaper removed.

Leslie Cloonan, consultant with the Institute for Environmental Assessment, said in an interview that vinyl wallpaper, once a popular trend, traps moisture and can lead to mold.

Fitch said they have been “chasing some mold issues around” this year, and have performed mitigation work in about five offices.

“Typically, it’s pulling off the wallpaper,” he said. “We might have to demo some of the sheetrock, pull carpet out.”

This year’s wet weather has contributed to the building’s water problems.

Fitch said water from rainfalls is not draining, but building up and collecting around the building’s foundation, creating pressure that drives the water inside.

Board Member Jim Skelly said $150,000 is a lot of money to spend on a district building and noted some of the building’s shortcomings, but said if the work was not done, the district’s asset would become useless.

Anderson agreed.

“From a functionality standpoint, from a working environment standpoint, these are things we have to correct in order for people to function,” he said.

Proposed funding sources for the mitigation efforts include the district’s health and safety levy and alternative facilities bonding.

Anderson also said the district has had many projects come in under budget, and he projects there will be more than $177,000 in fund balance at the end of the 2013-14 school year that could be used for the work.

Board members cited concerns about the situation and indicated they would approve the recommendation.

“The problem with delaying this work is it’s just going to cause a lot more problems down the road,” said Board Chair Roz Peterson, a commercial real estate agent. “Water is probably the most destructive thing that can happen to a building.”