February 15, 2007

School Board Moving Forward With Facility Improvements

As temperatures plummeted the past few weeks, heating systems were on everyones mind, including the Scotland County R-I Board of Education.

At the February 9th meeting, the SCR-I school board voted 5-0 to take the next steps with the CTS engineering firm to further study proposals to replace the high school heating and air conditioning systems, as well as the elementary school boiler, and additional lighting and electrical upgrades at both schools.

Representatives from the L.J. Hart Company met with the board and offered a positive financial picture for the districts existing balances as well as future budgeting.

They crunched the numbers for us regarding our past, current and projected assessed valuations along with our budget history and assured us that we could finance at least a portion of the proposed projects if not the entire package, said SCR-I Superintendent Dave Shalley.

Based on the positive financial report, the board issued a letter of intent to CTS to pursue further engineering and energy reduction reports for consideration at the March 15th board meeting.

Basically we committed to pursue some of the proposed improvements to the districts facilities, Shalley said. CTS will be back in March with further information to allow the board to decide which of the projects to undertake.

Some of the options CTS is expected to present to the board in March will include a variety of new heating sources for the high school. The engineering reports will review possible energy savings between water-source and ground-source heating systems.

The ground-source system is quite a bit more expensive to purchase, Shalley said. But what the CTS engineering reports will do is show us energy savings and other factors that the board must consider when making its decisions.

Other projects under consideration by the board include the high school air conditioning system. Reviews have shown that the system actually may be too large for the building, forcing the system to cool too quickly, preventing it from taking out the necessary humidity and moisture from the air.

The elementary school is being considered for a new boiler system as well as some electrical upgrades.

It boils down to creating the best environment we can for the students, Shalley said. Study after study shows us that kids learn better when they are comfortable in the school facility.

Shalley indicated that the district is not planning to seek additional public funding for the projects.

Last year when the board set the higher levy rate to take advantage of the final year of state funding at that higher amount, it put the district in the financial position to make some of these needed improvements, Shalley said. We will spend down some of the districts existing balances, much of which were earmarked years ago for such projects.

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