Washougal High’s aging, leaky roof to be replaced

25-year-old roof is deteriorating, has ‘major leaks’

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Washougal High School and its aging roof are seen in a 2024 aerial photo. The Washougal School District is preparing to replace the roof, which, according to the district, is deteriorating and causing leaks and water damage inside the school. (Contributed photos courtesy of Brendan Hargrave)

Washougal School District (WSD) leaders have determined that they cannot wait any longer to replace Washougal High School’s aging roof.

The district is preparing a bid package and plans to solicit construction bid proposals later this year for a roof replacement project, which it hopes to begin in the spring of 2025, and complete by the start of the 2025-26 school year, according to Les Brown, the school district’s communications and information technology director.

“(This project is) going to extend the use and the life of the whole roof system for 25 to 30-plus years, depending on what materials are used,” WSD Finance Director Kris Grindy said during a Washougal School Board meeting held June 11. “We know that this is important. A longer-lasting roof does require less ongoing maintenance and patch jobs and that kind of stuff to prevent the leaking from happening in the future years.”

The deterioration of the current composition shingle roof, which was constructed during Washougal High’s last remodel in the late 1990s, has led to “major leaks (which have) caused water damage inside the building,” according to a WSD report.

“If you have students at Washougal High School, I’m sure you have heard about leaks that have occurred,” WSD Facilities Director Jessica Beehner said during the June 11 meeting. “This time of the year, they get better, but wintertime, winter break, is not usually a good time for (the) facilities (department).”

Brendan Hargrave, a territory manager for Garland Industries, a Cleveland, Ohio-based manufacturing company the school district hired to analyze the roofs at Canyon Creek/Cape Horn-Skye and Washougal High in 2021, told the Board that the high school roof is in dire need of an immediate replacement.

“What I really wanted to come up here and say is that the high school roof hasn’t gotten any better since I (last spoke to you) three years ago,” said Hargrave, who provided an inspection report, complete with detailed drone photographs of the roof, to Board members during their June 11 meeting.

“As shingles age, and there’s degradation. They dry out, become brittle and stop hanging onto the roof,” Hargrave added. “That’s where we’re at now, and it’s only gotten worse. … Another issue is a lot of the fascia (that supports the structure of the roof’s edge) is just rotting out. Some of it will need to be removed and replaced.”

Weather, including high winds, rain, sun and moisture, causes “a lot of extra wear and tear” on the roof, WSD stated in its report.

“Is it confirmed that we need to move this project forward sooner than later?” Grindy asked the Board. “I think, based on what Brendan shared, that, yes, we will need to start with next steps on the planning process of replacing the high school roof, so that way we’re ready before it’s an emergent situation and failing.”

Replacing the roof and other aging systems at the school is “a responsible use of taxpayer dollars” and “will extend the useful life of the building so that we do not need to run a bond to replace it,” according to the WSD report.

“(We will construct) a lovely roof that not only is visually stunning — I really am excited about what it could look like — but also that ensures that we don’t have to go out and ask our taxpayers in 10, 15, 20 years for a completely new building,” then-WSD Superintendent Mary Templeton said during the June 11 meeting. “The amount that it costs to build a new building today is stunning.”

Brown said the overall Washougal High building could last as long as the new roof.

“Space-wise, we’re pretty well situated there,” he said. “We’re not outgrowing the building. It was built for roughly 1,200 students when you incorporate the Excelsior building, so they have plenty of room. They’re not overcrowded or anything like that. We obviously can’t predict the future, but the hope is that, with some really prudent long-term (decisions) that keep the entire building sound, it’ll last for another 30 years.”

The district included the roof-replacement project in its capital projects and information technology levy, approved by voters in April 2023, and will start collecting those levy funds in May 2025.

“We asked our taxpayers for $3.6 million,” Grindy said. “Just like we’re experiencing inflationary costs and wage increases (in other areas), I would expect (the roofing) industry to have the same and similar type of expenditure growth. We’ll continue to look at the right packages for a roof that can be within our budget.”

Brown said district leaders, with input from the Board, will choose materials for the new roof.

“(We have) to decide between doing a shorter lifespan roof made out of asphalt shingles or a longer-lasting one, like the metal one that’s on the Camas library,” Brown said. “The budgeted number — the number that we asked voters for the capacity to do — was probably (for) mostly metal, or maybe a mix of the two.”