March 29, 2007

SCR-I School Campus To Undergo $1.8 Million Overhaul This Summer

When summer vacation is over and students return to class at Scotland County R-I to open the 2007-08 school year, they will do so in a new and improved environment.

The Scotland County R-I School Board voted 7-0 to sign off on a proposed $1.8 million renovation project for the school campus.

The largest portion of the plan cost is earmarked for a new ground source heating and cooling system at the high school.

The facility was constructed in 1975. The buildings heating and cooling systems are beyond projected life expectancies and despite considerable repairs have been deemed inadequate to meet the district’s future needs.

A technical review of the high school concluded the air conditioning system, which utilizes roof-mounted units, have deteriorated enough to make it difficult to maintain proper climate control in the school. The report conducted by Control Technology and Solutions (CTS) also indicated the condensing units are not large enough for the system, resulting in excess moisture in the facility. The report also pointed out that the majority of the temperature control units were no longer functioning. The heating system boiler, despite being re-tuned in 1994, also was deemed in need of replacement.

As part of the project, the district will remove all existing ductwork and ceiling tiles. This removal work will be done in-house by the custodial staff.

The plan calls for installation of new ventilation and new ceiling tile.

“Our number one goal is to improve the learning atmosphere for the kids,” said Superintendent Dave Shalley. “The work on the ceiling, the ventilation and the entire HVAC system will improve the overall air quality while also providing much better climate control, doing just that.”

CTS documented that trend with data and studies that revealed temperature, humidity and ventilation levels in classrooms directly correlated with academic performance.

The upgrade will mean added services for the high school. For the first time the gymnasium, the locker rooms and the kitchen will be air conditioned. The system will also offer web-based controls. This will allow the entire HVAC system to be controlled by a computer and will even allow it to be monitored by the administration from off-campus locations.

“This is a cost-saving tool,” Shalley stated. “Basically it allows the administrator to manipulate the climate controls during hours that school is not in session. If classes are canceled due to poor weather, we can turn the thermostat down a few degrees since the buildings are not occupied, and thus save on heating costs.”

The system will be programmable also allowing cost-saving climate control in off-hours at the facility.

Energy efficiency plays a key part in a number of the other improvements scheduled for the high school.

Roughly $48,000 was budgeted for the instillation of a kitchen ventilation system that will dramatically reduce energy loss from the existing system. The district will also replace a leaking water heating system with two more efficient 100-gallon units at a cost of $33,000.

The last big piece of the high school upgrade will be the overhaul of the facilities’ lighting. While the current system provides adequate lighting, CTS recommended retrofitting the existing fixtures with more efficient lamp systems. The upgrades basically will replace the majority of T12 bulbs and florescent ballasts with more efficient T8 models in electronic ballasts.

The lighting switch, combined with the transition to the new ground source heating and cooling plant will provide the high school with more than $29,000 in annual energy savings. Shalley stated that figure is guaranteed by CTS, meaning if the actual savings do not meet or exceed that figure, the consultant will reimburse the district the difference.

The district will also receive a one-time efficiency rebate from electricity provider, Tri-County Electric Cooperative in the amount of $31,600, lowering the total cost of the high school improvements to $1,484,114.

The board also approved $328,822 in improvements at the elementary school.

The district will replace the building’s heating boiler system at a cost of $164,497. The old unit will be replaced with two 97% efficient 1.5 million BTU boilers along with new piping and ventilation.

A similar lighting upgrade as at the high school will cost $57,361 with $26,016 slotted for lighting improvements at the district’s outlying buildings.

The final $80,984 will be spent on upgrading the building’s electrical system. The existing 400 amp service will be upgraded to a 1200 amp service, including four new 200 amp panels to be installed.

The upgrades will produce an $8,500 annual energy cost savings at the elementary school.

The projects at both schools are also anticipated to provide nearly $25,000 a year in maintenance savings for the district.

Shalley stated that CTS was awarded the $1,812,936 bid for the project. He noted that the consulting firm will hire various contractors for the proposed jobs, which possibly could include local providers.

Initially the school district will fund the project with existing balances. The district currently has a $1.8 million positive balance as well as an additional $350,000 earmarked for capital improvement projects.

District policy mandates the school attempt to maintain a positive balance of 17% of the annual budget or $1 million, whichever is larger.

“The plan is to spend down our balance to come into line with the board policy,” Shalley stated. “Once we get there, the board will then have to decide future tax levies based on the budget year’s requirements.”

He noted that the state has established its performance levy rate at $3.43, which SCR-I falls below at its current rate of $3.36. With the Prop C waiver, the board could raise the levy to approximately $3.62 in the future if needed to meet the annual payments for the 15-year financing on the project.

The district has entered a financing agreement with L. J. Hart and Company for 15 years with an annual payment of $172,664.

With the energy cost savings combined with maintenance reductions the net payment for the district is expected to be roughly $110,000 annually.

“Our number one priority was fixing the moisture problem at the high school,” Shalley stated. “We considered implementing these upgrades in phases, but realizing these changes would be beneficial for all of our students and also realizing that they would only cost more later, we decided to undergo the entire project at once.”

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