Board moves to replace HVAC units

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By Jesse Osbourne

After further review, the Washington County School Board has a price tag to put on the replacement of HVAC units that service the Washington County High School gymnasium.

The board voted to approve the declaration of emergency for the WCHS HVAC system during the regular-scheduled meeting on Dec. 19.
According to the superintendent Robin Cochran and the project application form, the total cost budgeted for replacing two air-handling units is $150,000.
“One unit is no longer operating due to a failed heat exchanger,” the form stated. “The second unit is nearing the end of it’s predicted life span and a gas odor can be detected near the unit.”
According to the form, equipment rails will be added around the perimeter of the WCHS gymnasium roof for safety.
“The roof will be replaced to allow for the unit to be replaced with a new equipment curb in the area,” according to application form. “The return air duct above the stage will be extended down to the floor.”
Fred Boone, who spoke to the board during a work session recently, indicated that when the units were installed in 1996, they weren’t installed correctly according to plans.
Boone said the air return was too high for proper air flow.
Cochran said that the school district auditors wanted an engineer to look at the units to determine the cause of deterioration.
She also said that the people that she spoke with at the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE)had questions about the lack of maintenance on the units in the past.
“I just want you all to know that Paul (Terrell) and I, we have maintained that that’s not something that’s in our control or in this board’s control, because we weren’t here then. We’re not able to go back in time and so forth,” Cochran said in the meeting.
After the meeting, Cochran elaborated on her discussions with KDE.
“I would like to think that we all make the best decisions that we can make at that time,” she said. “Truth be told, there are things that could go wrong, even under my watch. To blame someone, I’m not there. We have to take what we know, and what needs to happen now is that we move forward.”
She said she thought KDE was impressed that carbon monoxide sensors were already installed in the gym.
Cochran said the bids for the job have included approximately $40,000 per unit, $15,000 to $30,000 for a new gymnasium roof, plus labor costs and installation.
“It’s a big deal,” she said. “It’s one of those things that we hadn’t budgeted for. You can’t ignore it.”
Judy Spalding, finance director for Washington County Schools, said a $7,000 contingency was put in the estimate in case unforeseen work came up.
She added that some of the line items in the project were rounded up in case it was needed.
Board member Nora Hatton asked if there were any guesses about the timeline of project completion.
Spalding said that Boone indicated it could be four weeks just to have the equipment made.
All members were in attendance for the regular-scheduled meeting at North Washington Elementary School.
The next school board meeting is at 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 4 at central office.