Lansing High School Pool

The Lansing Board of Education, accepted a legal settlement from pool contractors accused of making faulty repairs that kept the Lansing High School swimming pool closed for about a year and a half.  The case was mediated, rather than brought to court, with former Monroe County Supreme Court Judge Thomas Stander mediating the case.  The district filed the lawsuit in 2019, asking for damages including the $180,000 the district spent to fix the botched work, plus $138,000 in other damages.  The suit was settled in a Zoom meeting for $85,000 with the cost shared by the contractor and four sub-contractors.

The pool repairs were part of the school district's 2013 'Building Core' capital project.  The pool was closed to replace the pool shell, but soon after the repairs were completed new problems arose.  School employees identified tile failures in the pool shell in January of 2016. School Business Administrator Mary June King (now retired) reported to the Board of Education in November of 2017 that a forensic team of experts were evaluating the problem, and would recommend a solution.

"I'm sure our attorneys will have lots of insight for us, and the forensic analysis is going to be critical in our ability to address that from a financial standpoint," she told the School Board told them.
They found the pool shell tiles were coming loose.  Experts cited a number of reasons the tiles were failing, with the main reason being that layers of marcite from the old pool shell had not been removed before installing the new tile shell.  After the tiles were installed the marcite beneath them shrunk, which damaged the bonding material holding the tiles in place.  The investigation also found there was more deterioration to the pool than had been originally identified.  School Superintendent Chris Pettograsso explained in 2017 after the pool had reopened following the second round of repairs.

"We found out that in the original removal of the previous tile they didn't get all the layers, so it wasn't adhering," she said. "We did more investigation and we found that some of our pipes were leaking. That's when we decided this is bigger than what we thought the original problem was. the time you do things like that is when it's all taken apart, so you investigate further. We found the pipes needed repair, and some of the joint -- they needed to be taken out and fully replaced. So we decided to go fully in and repair everything this time around. We had to take out much of the pool deck, so that also needed to be replaced and re-tiled."

The DIstrict accepted the lowest bid of $180,000 in 2017 from a new contractor, who replaced the damaged tile with a marcite pool shell.

In addition to expenses accrued by the forensics investigation, and later by the cost of doing the project again, classes, athletic teams, and public pool users were prevented from using the pool, which meant new expenses to cover the use of other nearby pools and transportation for swimmers. In 2017 the Triad Foundation gave the school district a $15,000 gift that partially paid for support, transportation and alternative pools.

The lawsuit was originally brought against the contractor, who then brought the subcontractors into the suit.  The various parties originally blamed each other for the tile failure, but after almost seven hours of negotiation, the five agreed to contribute to an $85,000 settlement, with the contractor paying $25,000 and each sub-contractor contributing $15,000.

A letter from school attorneys to the Board Of Education explaining the reasons for the lawsuit and its mediation was made public Monday for the school board meeting.  School attorneys recommended that the school board accept the settlement on the grounds that litigation in court is very costly and the results are not assured, even though attorneys for the district believed they would prevail if the case went to court.  The Lansing Board of Education unanimously, and without comment, voted Monday to approve the settlement.