Scott Downs, a Sahuarita Unified School District assistant superintendent, takes pictures after a storm in October caused the Sahuarita Intermediate School library to flood in the middle of a roofing project.

A $1.95 million roofing project at Sahuarita Intermediate School scheduled to be completed in January is still not finished, and the district isn't happy. 

Scott Downs, an assistant superintendent with Sahuarita Unified School District, said he is so disappointed with JBS Roofing that he plans to address their performance with the Arizona School Facilities Board, which selected the Glendale-based company and paid for the project.

"I have some concerns the way the project went and I will be discussing it with the School Facilities Board," Downs said. "It’s important that the School Facilities Board knows how they performed."

The company was hired last year by the state SFB to replace 50,000 square feet of roofing at the school. The school, built in 1970, had a V-shaped roof that collected water in the middle to drain. JBS was hired to create a slightly pitched roof so water could drain differently.

The project was supposed to take three months and wrap up in late-January. The company was scheduled to come back in June to coat the roof.

However, the actual roofing part of the job wasn't completed until last week and the company is expected to finish coating the roof by July 19. JBS did not return a phone call Tuesday seeking comment.

Some of the delays were caused by an unusually high number of cold and rainy days, Downs said. The crews lost a week in October when an unexpected storm dropped two to three inches of rain, causing water to back up and pool on the roof. It then made its way into the library through gaps made when air conditioners were temporarily moved.

The library lost more than 500 books – books JBS promised to replace.

There were other rain delays, but the crews also lost time because the glue they used won't adhere in temperatures below 55 degrees, and Sahuarita experienced several cold spells, Downs said.

Still, Downs said he believes most of the delays were caused by a lack of workers. At most, there were eight men working on the roof at a time, but the majority of the time there were far fewer, he said.

"When we talk about the things that were in their control, I think they just had a lack of manpower. Even when there was a good day, they had four guys on the roof," Downs said. 

The company also lost a construction superintendent during the project, he said.

In addition, Downs wasn't pleased the crews only worked four, 10-hour shifts per week, even after they fell behind. There were no provisions in the contract to penalize the company for missing its deadline, he said.

Moving forward, Downs said he hopes the School Facilities Board will allow SUSD to "have a seat at the table." When projects go out for bid, Downs said the district would like to dictate  hours and days contractors work, final completion dates and, if possible, penalties for missed deadlines.

During the project, students often had to be moved out of the building due to noise levels and odors, Downs said.

In addition to being late, the assistant superintendent said the construction crews failed to clean up after themselves. Foam was constantly blowing all over the campus, causing extra work for custodians.

"I was like, 'I want them roofing, I don’t care if they’re not cleaning up. You know what? We’ll take our custodians and we’ll do the cleaning so they’re not wasting their time cleaning.' So after a while, we just stopped complaining about how messy it was and us having to pick up after them," Downs said.

In order to remove JBS from the job, the district would have had to prove it wasn't fulfilling its contract, and while they were working too slow in the district's opinion, it was fulfilling its contract, he said. Moreover, removing JBS would've meant having to re-bid the contract, possibly delaying the project several more months.

Five months after the project was supposed to be completed, Downs said he still has one major question.

"Was I satisfied with their work? I will not know the answer to that until it rains," he said. "Was I satisfied with the work and the progress, I’d have to be honest and say no. If this was my own house, I don’t think anybody would stand for a five-month delay."

Kim Smith | 520-547-9740

Assistant Editor Kim Smith moved to Arizona from Michigan when she was 16. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in journalism in 1989. She has worked at seven newspapers of varying size in Arizona, Texas and Nevada.

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