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School Official Stands By Handling of Leaky Malverne Roof

Assistant superintendent says he still would have wanted residents to vote on roof repairs even if he knew of existing warranty.

The news that the Malverne school district n repairing a roof at its high school, unaware that it was still covered under warranty, led to a tense discussion at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting.

"How could you not know?" one Malverne resident asked Spiro Colaitis, assistant superintendent for district operations, after he admitted that he was not aware of the 20-year warranty when he recommended the school board tap into the district's Capital Reserves Fund to fix the leaky roof. As a result, the board o the May 15 ballot, , giving the district permission to utilize up to $312,000 for the repairs.

Colaitis brought in two experts to assess the damaged roof, who estimated that, based on the level of deterioration, it must be at least 25 years old, much too old to still be under warranty. It turns out though, it's only 11 years old.

Outgoing Trustee Karen Aker discovered that the roof was still under warranty when she made some phone calls to past employees, who indicated to her that the roof was repaired in 1996. (Colaitis, however, contends that the roof was only patched in 1996 and that the warranty in place now is from the roof replacement done 2001, which means nine years remain on it.) 

"The reason we had the vote is because we didn't know about the warranty when we put the proposition up," Colaitis said. "We had 24 hours to make the decision because of time limits ... No files could be found."

"So that is bad management," the Malverne resident retorted.

Colaitis responded, saying that "had I known about the warranty at the time, I still would've recommended the board to go ahead with the vote."

His reason for this was that there is no guarantee the contractor would honor the warranty.

"We have a contractor who is honoring it right now," Colaitis said, but explained that after working on the roof on three separate dates -- May 16, June 11 and June 12 -- the district still is not certain the problem has been resolved. (They also learned that the manufacturer of the roofing system has several pending lawsuits.)

"What if the roof is never fixed to our satisfaction?" he added. "In a perfect world, if that roof is turned into a water-tight system to our satisfaction, the money stays in the bank, it never comes out."

However, if the contractor is not able to fix the leaks, Colaitis would recommend repairing the roof using the $312,000 the taxpayers authorized for the project and then seek legal action with the contractor to be reimbursed.

"We have a roof that's leaking over a building we have to address," he said. "We can't just wait for someone to come and fix it."

It was at this point that Aker spoke up and questioned whether the roof was also under warranty, from the 1996 repair, when the work was done in 2001.

"How much did it cost the taxpayers in 2001?" Aker asked. "In '96, I was told a full roof was being done ... If we would've gone back, say in 1996, to see what was done, then in 2001, we might not have had to spend anything to have it fixed."

Colaitis, citing conversations he had with a former district employee and the roof's manufacturer, continued to say that the warranty did not start until the roof was completely replaced in 2001.

"The bigger issue is not so much that we have a warranty now ... but the operational procedure," said Trustee Gina Genti. "How something like this could get missed."

Genti proposed putting a mechanism in place to make it easier for the district to track and access records in situations like this.

"Had we not have the deadline of the vote coming up I would've done more research, asked more questions, and done by due dilligence," Colaitis said. "But in those 24 hours, I still would've recommended to go through with the proposition even if I knew there was a warranty. We have to give the board options."

"All the options were not laid out," Genti argued, saying that Colaitis could have recommended the board give him more time to research the problem and put off voting on it until a later date. However, this route would have required the district to spend more money on organizing a second election.

"Why would you do that?" Colaitis said. "We're saving the taxpayers money by not doing a second vote and by approving a proposition, we haven't spend a dime ... The money is sitting there and will not be spent until the contractor fails to return this to a water-tight system."

Look for more coverage of the June 12 Board of Education meeting later this week on Patch.

Brenda Gio June 13, 2012 at 10:10 PM
This school official is the same person I contacted during two of the worst winters we have had in the past 5 years because the district NEVER clears the sidewalk of ice and snow along the Lakeview Avenue side of the high school property. He never even bothered to reply. If directing snow removal is too much of an effort, roof warranties must be out of the question.
agnew wratchet June 14, 2012 at 01:23 AM
Why the district doesn't just fire this clown Colonitis is beyond comprehension. They should strike a deal with one or more of the neighboring school districts to hire one property manager guy to oversee all the combined districts' properties. How hard can this job be, and why does it merit an annual salary of $149,429? Board: in the name of all that is sane, please explore shared services - first baby step toward district consolidation and real taxpayer relief.
Concerned Resident June 14, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Malverne is at the mercy of incompetence!! Shouldn't have forced Mr OBeirne out. This wouldn't have happened under his watch and he didn't have his title changed to Asst Superintendent. Taxpayers have to pressure the district to get rid of this character.
Resident who cannot stand the incompetence June 14, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Once again incompetence of the current administration, being led by an overpaid superintendent who will continue to run residents out of the area due to overtaxing. Something must be done NOW. Mr. Colitis, you should never hold any title. You must think all residents are complete idiots to continually stand there on your high and mighty platform and tell complete lies to the taxpayers. You should be fired immediately and take your boss with you.
Highlander June 14, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Two questions should be addressed, Why with a large expenditure and major project, specific FILES were not kept on the ROOF.As a homeowner, files of receipts, contracts & warranty's are routine.Not an acceptable practice or excuse ! Also who reccommended or researched the roofing company we contracted? Does the district vet the companies or is it the old schoolboy network? "Honoring Contracts" certainly should be first & foremost
Nothing Surpises Me Anymore June 14, 2012 at 12:09 PM
I'm so surprised that people are actually intelligent enough (finally!!) to realize what's going on and to finally speak up. This administration is so incompetent it's pathetic and it doesn't start and end with Mr. Colitis. I cannot imagine if this were a business that CEO's would get away with "not knowing" about a warranty or any other thing that goes along with a service. His incompetent performance musn't end there either. Somehow, just like the code of blue, code of white, and any other code, where they close their eyes and or cover up for each other; this one seems to always get away with bludering. He needs to go but then again so do other administrators in the district. The ones that blunder seem to stay though, so that's not saying much for the board either. You have to wonder what type of hold the administrators have over the very people that can fire them!?
Resident who cannot stand the incompetence June 14, 2012 at 03:00 PM
How do we start actions to get the current administration fired? Is it the Board's responsibiltiy? What can be done legally? There have been enought lies, cover-up's and errors that there should be a system in place to have employees removed.
Concerned Resident June 14, 2012 at 03:59 PM
They have no problem harassing, bullying and making employees miserable until they finally throw in the towel. You think Mr. Colitis is rude to the taxpayers, you should see how he treats district employees!! This district needs a complete overhaul!!!! Taxpayers it's time to demand a change and hold these overly paid administrators accountable!! Get rid of them and hire administrators that have to earn their title and are not so far removed from the classroom and community!!
Resident who cannot stand the incompetence June 14, 2012 at 04:22 PM
I'm all for it but how do we start? Any lawyers out there with input? You have a lot of residents who will gladly do any legwork to get the ball rolling.
Jan Kasal December 13, 2012 at 04:30 PM
If you follow the Malverne school district news on a regular basis you are aware that the board of education has recently become an agenda of its own, not leaving much room for any other business. Its conduct has been divisive, obscure, and poisonous. The current school board is a burden and embarrassment to the school district residents. If you are ready to dedicate some time to prepare for the upcoming May 2013 school budget and school board member elections and to change the course, please join others by contacting me at vevajanka@hotmail.com

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