What’s in the GM renovation bond: Elementary schools to see upgrades in heating systems

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2022 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Both Cavendish Town and Chester-Andover elementary schools are slated to get upgrades to their fire alarm systems, should the bond proposal pass. Cavendish Town’s portion of the upgrade is worth $1.7 million; Chester-Andover’s is $2.6 million.

Todd Parah, facilities director for Two Rivers Supervisory Union, says this upgrade will expand their capacity to add fire and security systems. Just as at the high school, LED lights will be replacing the 48-inch standard florescent bulbs, which will not be available in Vermont after 2024. And older electrical controls would be replaced by “direct digital controls” that allow facilities staff to monitor and change settings for heating, ventilation and lighting remotely around the clock. Parah says this will also allow staff to catch problems and correct them quickly.

And like Green Mountain High School, both elementary schools will move from heating oil to propane, which is a higher efficiency fuel. CAES would have its existing boilers converted to the gas while CTES would get new boilers set up for propane according to the plan.

Editor’s Note: Last week we examined what’s in the Green Mountain Unified School District’s $20 million renovation bond by focusing on the GM high school building. It takes up about 77 percent of the bond’s total while it represents about 70 percent of square footage of the district’s three buildings and takes in students from Ludlow, Mt. Holly and other area towns in addition to Andover, Baltimore, Cavendish and Chester. This week we’ll turn our attention to the district’s two elementary schools.

If you have already voted by mail, you will still need to vote on the bond. Click to learn how.

GMUSD will hold a tour of the high school’s infrastructure at 6 p.m. on Thursday Oct. 27 and an information meeting at 6 p.m. on Nov. 1. at the high school, 716 Rt. 103 south and via Zoom. To join the information meeting  click here: https://trsu.zoom.us/j/88477957682

Chester-Andover Elementary

The 1966 wing of CAES was built with egress doors for the classrooms

At nearly 36,000-square-feet, CAES is between a quarter and one-third the size of the high school and was built in sections between 1954 and 1966, according to a drawing used by the school’s maintenance department. In 2018, a water main break flooded the boiler room, ruining much of the electrical system and knocking the school out of service for half the year.

While insurance paid for much of the damage, the three new boilers that were installed were not the high efficiency “condensing” types slated to go into the high school and Cavendish Elementary if the bond is approved by voters. But because they are just a few years old, the CAES boilers will not be replaced.

The 1954 building and 1957 wing do not have classroom egress doors or windows.

The flood recovery also included a lot of work on the schools damaged electrical systems, but some electrical sub panels were not replaced because the district’s insurer said they were not damaged by the flood. At the time, there was discussion of replacing  these old panels in the summer of 2019, but that never happened. The seven new sub panels plus installation come to $216,000.

The two largest projects would:

  1. reconfigure the school’s parking lot to improve student drop off and pickup by school buses and private vehicles;
  2. replace all the windows in the school.

A number of solutions to the traffic pattern around student pickup and dropoff have been proposed but none has been chosen

While there has been no engineered plan around the parking/traffic pattern, the consultants at Energy Efficient Investments, which has proposed the renovation projects, estimated that a preliminary concept would cost $529,000 to engineer and construct. The desired result would be clearing up the Main Street traffic – especially at the end of the day – and improving the safety of children around cars and buses before and after school.

Weighing in at almost $1.2 million, the replacement of all the the school’s windows represents nearly half of the expenditures planned at CAES. This plan has not been without critics on the GMUSD board including chairman Joe Fromberger who asserted that replacing windows will not pay for itself in energy savings in any reasonable time. For example, over the 20-year bond, the school would need to see a $60,000 per year reduction in heating costs to offset the cost of the windows. But in the 2022-23 budget, the line for heating oil is $45,000.

Principal Katherine Fogg maintained that several other issues would be addressed in addition to energy savings. While classrooms on the wing built in 1966 have exit doors, the earlier wing does not, nor does it have emergency egress windows.

She added that the current windows make the classrooms cold in the winter and hot in the spring and fall. She also said the school should have tinted windows for safety, noting that the large windows make those inside feel vulnerable.

Cavendish Town Elementary

Facilities Director Todd Parah confirms the installation date on one of the CTES boilers

At 21,000-square-feet CTES is the smallest of the schools — about one-sixth of the space of the high school. But the renovation project would do much the same there as at the larger school. At CTES, the project would install condensing boilers to replace the conventional ones installed in 2000 and 2004 and remove the unit ventilators throughout the building.

As noted in our story on the GMUHS building work, unit ventilators are basically hot water radiators with “squirrel cage” fans that move the heat or outside air into the room.

One of the unit ventilators that bond funds would replace

With the ventilators gone, heat would be delivered by duct work throughout the school. While the replacement of the unit ventilators at the high school will be made more complex and expensive by the way that the heaters, classroom cabinetry and window glass is all part of one frame, the setup at CTES is less complicated.  Those windows can remain in place after the unit ventilators are removed. The cost of the new boilers is estimated at $448,500 while the removal of ventilators and installation of heating ducts is pegged at $825,000.

The GMUSD board voted to put $85,000 toward upgrading the CTES playground which some have called dangerous

While the heat will be more even and easier to control, the building is poorly insulated, according to Parah. This results in melting snow on the roof turning into ice dams that become safety issues when they fall. A $35,000 insulation and weatherization project in the bond is aimed at reducing the ice problems and saving on heating costs.

Finally, the GM board voted to include $85,000 to go toward upgrading the school’s playground, which has been described in meetings as dangerous. There is a fundraising project going on currently to supplement the bond money in fitting out a new playground.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Filed Under: AndoverCavendishChesterEducation NewsFeaturedLatest News

About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.