Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

New schools experiencing major structural problems

Melissa Roach
Posted 6/13/18

REGIONAL— Several of the St. Louis County School District’s new schools are experiencing significant deterioration and structural problems barely seven years after completion of construction on …

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New schools experiencing major structural problems

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REGIONAL— Several of the St. Louis County School District’s new schools are experiencing significant deterioration and structural problems barely seven years after completion of construction on the $80 million school district restructuring.

Building and grounds supervisor Tony Buccanero revealed a laundry list of major concerns during a board study session held Monday. Both the South Ridge and North Woods schools have problems with sinking floors, which are distorting interior walls and doorways, while Cherry has its own set of problems.

“We’ve got issues at South Ridge with some sinking floors that stemmed back from the original construction,” said Buccanero. “I need to get ICS involved because I think we are going to need some professional help to see if we can go back and review the ten-year construction clause to see if some of this stuff can be remedied by the previous contractor, Kraus Anderson.” ICS is a consulting firm based in Blaine.

“Long story short,” said Buccanero, “we’ve got sinking floors in the music room and elementary bathroom.” He also described doorways that are sinking away and pulling away from the exterior walls. “We have one in the choir room that is resting up against a roof truss…boiler loop pipes that are resting against the pipe chase, so basically if that roof truss wasn’t there, we would have had major failure, which would have shut that school down for some time. It’s a brand new school and we shouldn’t have this happening.”

Board members wanted answers on warranty. “There’s not really a warranty for this type of stuff…There are clauses,” said Buccanero. “I need another professional to work with on this.” He added, “It’s unfortunate, we spent a lot of money on this school, and just wait until we get to North Woods.”

Buccanero described similar issues at North Woods, some of which have been discussed before. Buccanero said the floors in the North Woods field house are “sinking away from the building, possibly resting on the plumbing.” He said he is looking into options to fix the problem. “I don’t know what is under the floor. We have to cut it open. This is another Kraus Anderson project and we will need to look at those clauses.” Buccanero continued, “We already paid 70-some million dollars, and we shouldn’t be having this happening.” Board member Dan Manick agreed. “It looks like sloppy work,” he said. “It is sloppy work,” said Buccanero. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Other issues at North Woods include the storm water drain in the parking lot, where one of the drain pipes appears to be cracked. “We patched it last year, but it came back. We have a crack in the line and we have to dig it up and repair. It’s a safety issue.”

Directing attention to the Cherry School, Buccanero said the parking lot needs repair work, much like North Woods. “Cherry has the biggest work coming up, the drainage, baseball field, possible expansion; they are all tied together, and in my opinion, this is the number one priority for our district,” he said. Longtime board member Chet Larson exclaimed, “Does everyone here realize the classrooms at Cherry on the east side have been removed and replaced three times…Every single bond issue, that water problem at Cherry was going to be corrected, including the last one and we keep paying for it and nothing happens. Cherry is built on a swamp.” Buccanaro replied, “All these problems are intertwined; the baseball field, the parking lot, any building expansion. We need to make a move on it for getting the work done next year. Safety is the number one priority.”

Switching to Northeast Range, Buccanero said they need to remove an oil bunker, make field house repairs, add fire door functions and re-key doors. He said he is also looking at upgrades to the STEM room, and fixing lights on the scoreboard.

At Tower-Soudan, he said he is looking to have exterior doors re-keyed, add handicap entrances and extend sidewalks. North Woods is looking for a school billboard for Hwy. 53 and building up the shoulder on the entrance road. Buccanero said he is also moving ahead with emergency striping at the South Ridge and North Woods school parking lots to avoid parking in front of the schools.

Many of the capital projects and wish list items may be able to be paid for by the recent legislative allocation of $25 million for school districts, with as much as $500,000 available per building. Superintendent Engebritson said that grant monies will be given on a first come-first served basis, and she would be ready to submit each of the district’s schools for the funds.

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Shaking my head

If that bonding referendum were not held in the Spring, it never would have passed. The schools should have merged with larger schools. There was no cost savings, and now we find out the poorly built schools will need major work that will likely result in lawsuits. The Tower high school and pool were demolished out of spite, as we voted heck no! The ridiculousness of such a spread out district should not have been allowed to continue. Pig in a poke. Head’s should roll, but they won’t.

Friday, June 15