School board OKs air conditioning project at primary school

Shawn Hardy

The Greencastle-Antrim School Board voted Thursday evening to proceed with HVAC upgrades at Greencastle-Antrim Primary School. The project, estimated at $2.7 million, moves the ESCO (energy savings) projects started at the high school in 2015 into the final building.

Although the work at the primary school was initially a year away, McClure Co., which runs the projects, recommended starting this year due to rising costs.

In addition, McClure representatives will already be on hand for the ESCO project planned this summer at the elementary school, according to Jolinda “JC” Wilson, chief financial support services officer and acting superintendent.

To date, the district has borrowed $18,540,000 with the intention of spending about $5 million a building and will probably have to issue a “clean-up” bond to round out the work, according to Wilson. The middle school and high school cost more because they are older buildings and the elementary and primary schools are expected to cost less because they are newer.

These have been “barebones” projects without bells and whistles, Wilson said. They improve building function, not appearance.

HVAC systems cost millions of dollars and “we knew we had systems that were at the end of their useful life,” Wilson said. In addition, work at the high school and middle school has included lighting replacement with LED efficient lighting; addressing the building “envelope” to fix cracks and leaks where heat or air are being lost, such as around windows and vents; fire alarm system upgrades; hallway painting; and camera system replacement.

The high school was converted to cyberkeys as an extra security measure. That’s a big expense, but the district hopes to eventually convert the other buildings, too.

So far, HVAC upgrades, restroom restoration and video surveillance totaling $1.8 million have been approved for the elementary school. The board has talked about painting, carpeting and cyberlocks, but has not made a decision. Painting, carpeting and a video intercom also are on the table at the primary school.

One goal is for systems to be comparable through district buildings.

The project has also included the addition of three classrooms in the administrative wing of the elementary school, a classroom expansion at the middle school and redoing the gym floor and auditorium stage at the high school.

In addition to planning and managing the projects, McClure provides 20-year guaranteed savings in utility bills. For example, the primary HVAC upgrade is guaranteed to save $327,000 over two decades.

“McClure has been a wonderful partner for the district,” Wilson said. “Their onsite project people work well with district staff and accommodate our requests. My comfort level with them is as high as it can be.”