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By Mike Scott
The Clark County R-1 School district is looking at spending around $2 million dollars in federal funds to upgrade the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and Black Hawk and Running Fox Elementary schools, as well as work at the Middle School and High School. The money is from a federal grant program to the states called Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III). Pending the Missouri legislature’s acceptance of the coronavirus relief federal funds totaling $1.9 billion dollars, CCR-1 is poised to get about $2 million dollars in ESSER III funds.
In October of 2101, the board held an initial discussion with representatives from Veregy, and company that specializes in Energy Performance Contracts. The contracts allow school districts to make facility upgrades, with the costs being repaid in energy savings over a period of no more than 15 years. At that meeting, Veregy predicted costs of around $1.7 million dollars for the proposed project.
At their meeting in January, board members were shocked and angered that the price estimate nearly doubled.
On Thursday evening, February 10, the school board met with Veregy representatives and engineers to explain the increase, and revise the scope of work that could be done for the available funds.
What’s included At Black Hawk and Running Fox?
The scope of the project includes HVAC upgrades on the first floor of Black Hawk, and at Running Fox. The existing air conditioning units will be replaced. It also includes air conditioning the gyms and installing mini-split units in four currently unairconditioned rooms in each building.
“Originally, we looked at doing the first floor and upstairs at Black Hawk,” said Veregy representative Keegan Corrigan. “Unfortunately, that’s not possible.
Equipment, supply, and construction costs have escalated sharply since Veregy began discussions with the district.
“First of all, the gyms are not sealed,” Veregy engineer Joe Volmert explained. “You can see through the louvers. It creates a pressure differential and allows moisture into the buildings. Our plan is to seal the gym.”
Volmert continued, “What’s the first thing you do when you turn on your air conditioning at home? You close your windows. You guys aren’t closing your windows.”
“Controlling the gym will make everything better,” said Volmert.
To fight the moisture that gets into the building, Black Hawk currently runs 25 small dehumidifiers, capable of removing a total of 50 gallons of moisture per day.
“The system we’re proposing will remove 461 gallons per day,” Volmert said.
The combination of sealing the gym, replacing units in the ground-floor classrooms and providing eight times the humidity removal will dramatically improve the climate inside the school buildings.
Black Hawk has a problem with controlling the temperature upstairs, especially in the winter.
“Our bigger problem is in the winter,” said Principal Betsy Parrish. Upstairs rooms can be uncomfortably hot, while downstairs is too cold.
Running Fox has a similar problem.
“One end of my building might be too hot, and the other too cold,” said Running Fox Principal Katrina Nixon. “And it might switch ends the next day.”
One more aspect of the projects at the elementary buildings will be new WIFI thermostats on all the HVAC units, allowing more accurate monitoring and control of the temperatures in each room.
Volmert also noted that parts from the first-floor units being replaced could be saved for future use on the second-floor units at Black Hawk.
Middle School and High School Updates
At the Middle School, plans are being made to air condition the gym. Like in the elementary buildings, it will mean sealing the louvers and managing the air intake differently.
At the high school, the problem is the control system. When the district did its last HVAC update, they contracted with Trane to do the work. Since then, however, the district has decided not to pay Trane’s annual service contract fee of around $30,000, leaving them essentially unable to control heating and cooling in the High School building.
“I did the best solutions for you that will solve your problems and meet your budget,” concluded Volmert.
The board voted 6-0 to accept the scope of the work, and to proceed with the projects, pending Missouri’s acceptance of the federal relief funds.
In other business:
•The board reviewed the Vocational report presented by a High School Principal Jason Harper. CCR-1 is a standalone vocational program, meaning its students do not attend a vocational center. Currently 142 students are enrolled in Vocational Agriculture programs, including Ag Science, Ag Tech, Ag Construction, Food Science, Ag Business, Crop Science and Animal Science. Twelve students are participating in the Building Trades program. In the Vocational Business area, 180 students take business-related classes like Computer Applications, Personal Finance, Business Tech, Business Law, Accounting and COE. 93 students participate in the Vocational Family and Consumer Science program, with coursework in Career Development, Family Relations, Child Development, Family Meals, Clothing and Textiles and Family and Individual Health.
•Several students also take classes through Southeast Community College in areas such as Agriculture, Business, Industrial Maintenance, CAN Nursing, Early Childhood Education and Automotive Technology. Harper noted that this week, 17 students were going to visit SCC to tour the Industrial Maintenance program.
•The board also approved an elementary summer school program running 20 days between May 25 and June 22. The sessions will have a holiday theme.
“Our goal is to go back to a ‘normal summer school,” said Summer School Director Katrina Nixon.
•Superintendent Dr. Ritchie Kracht also expressed concern about low attendance, which is currently under 95 percent.
“There has been a lot of sickness this year so far,” Kracht said. “Attendance will