Haviland Middle School needs $2.8 million heating fix

The Haviland Middle School heating system has flunked all possible attempts at repair, and it needs to be replaced.

That’s the assessment of school district officials, who made emergency repairs last winter when the extreme cold forced the closure of the school on a number of days because of inadequate heat.

The projected cost of an entire new system will be $2.87 million, architect Bill Wisbauer told administrators and the Board of Education at their meeting June 26.

Wisbauer, along with fiscal advisor Chuck Bastian and Elliot Garcia, the district’s Director of Facilities and Operations, gave a presentation on the capital project proposal, which outlined the needed repairs.

To start, Wisbauer explained that because Haviland has three building sections–wings A, B and A-1–there is more than one issue with the system.

In the A-wing, a hot air supply duct is located in the wing’s center section where there is a non-insulated wall. Wisbauer also said that he believes that a portion of the piping for the duct system is crumbling, which is allowing heat to escape. The cafeteria is located in this section and the kitchen is experiencing a drop in temperature because the exhaust dampers are not running.

In the A-1-wing area, Wisbauer explained, the ceiling-mounted unit ventilators are experiencing problems because of their age. The B-wing needs roof top units (RTU’s) and/or ducted fan coil units for the administration section.

In addition, the original building heat exchangers, which cover both A and B wings, need to be replaced.

Wisbauer told the board both he and Garcia recommend that the current hot air system be replaced with a hot water system, which would entail installing new ceiling-mounted unit ventilators in classrooms, insulating the supply ducts against air gaps in the perimeter walls, replacing portions of classroom walls that are open at the bottom, replacing the air handling unit for the cafeteria, as well as replacing a number of other units throughout the building.

He also gave them a proposed schedule for the project, which could begin next summer and end in November 2015, if a public referendum is held this September.

Voter approval is required, according to Rychcik, “to borrow and expend funds for a capital project that is not part of the general operating budget.”

The board also considered the moisture problems at North Park Elementary School.

At the June 12 meeting, Garcia told the board that at North Park, there were days last summer and fall when his assistants measured over 90 percent relative humidity in the North Park building. At the June 26 meeting, Wisbauer explained that’s because the building’s current mechanical system, which is approximately 50 years old, cannot properly control humidity buildup.

Wisbauer’s recommendation was to replace all unit ventilators with new steam heat and cooling units with dehumidification controls. The total project cost would be $2.46 million with an additional piping option of $460,000.

But, after discussion, the board agreed not to include the North Park repairs in capital project talks because of the costs and the impact on the debt service.

Another reason to remove North Park from the project is board concern that it might one day have to be closed as school enrollments continue their downward trend.

At the June 12 BOE meeting, Rychcik told the board that if North Park was part of a major capital investment it would then be removed from the list of possible schools that could be shut if enrollments continue their downward trend.

“I don’t want to spend a lot of money on a building that could close,” responded board chair Douglas Hieter.

Board member Kevin Sheehan added that he would never vote to close North Park because it is the newest school in the district, built in 1967.

At the June 12 meeting, board member Steven Mittermaier asked if there was a short-term fix for controlling the humidity issue at North Park. Garcia said they are successfully managing the situation with dehumidifiers the district has already purchased.

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