ACSD Board work session looks into options for issues at East Elementary

by Brianne Eilers

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) school board members met at East Elementary School in Waukon Monday evening, September 10 for a work session with representatives from Shive Hattery to discuss some of the issues the firm addressed in its recent study of the East Elementary building. The initial reason for the study of the building was to investigate the issues with the pipe system involved with the heating of the building.

The report was presented to the school board members and then explained by the representatives from Shive Hattery, who presented the board members with several options as well as other things noticed that could be added to the project if the board chooses to. The baseline fix is that all piping would have to be replaced, but it was pointed out that the overall system would still be outdated.

The first option Shive Hattery mentioned was a two-pipe system. This system would either have to be all heating or all cooling. It could be difficult to switch between the two, if needed. The example was given of a day where heat might be needed in classrooms in the morning and cooling needed in the afternoon. They could use the existing boiler or have high efficiency water lines put in.

The second option was a four-pipe system, which would always have heating and cooling options available during the entire day. The boiler options would be the same. A chiller unit would be required with both the two-pipe and four-pipe system.

The third option discussed was geothermal. This option would provide payback over 10 to 12 years as well as rebates. According to the Shive Hattery report, if the district went with this option, the system would not be able to utilize a traditional pump due to the location of the school. It would have to use a pump and re-inject system. This system would require drilling 600 feet down to the aquifer and then pump water from the aquifer, run it through the exchanger and re-inject the water back into the aquifer. There would be no contamination and it is energy efficient.

The maintenance on a geothermal system would be no more than a four-pipe system. The pump would have a flow rate of 350-400 gallons per minute. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Allamakee County and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would also have requirements and permits involved in that process.

The study also looked at the building as a whole and found some additional areas of concern. Asbestos abatement is a concern with some of the flooring tiles, insulation and ceiling tiles in some of the classrooms and corridors. The district could also consider replacing the windows and ceilings. The report also recommended that the lights be changed over to LED. All of these options could be done in conjunction with the heating and cooling project, and that approach would be ideal because these areas are all going to be worked on during the project.

In addition to those suggestions, the report added fire alarm replacement, safety and security (adding keypads or card swipe at entry ways), ADA requirements (making bathrooms compliant and stairs accessible), and the report also mentioned roof replacement. The roof should be good until 2025 or 2030, but it is something the board may want to start thinking about.

The report also had a few options should the board and district decide to completely remodel the school. The building has “good bones,” according to the report, and the board was presented with drawings for several plans and options from remodeling the existing building to exploring options for a new building.

ACSD Buildings and Grounds Director Bill Hennessy asked what the time frame would be on a project like this. Moving from an HVAC system to a four-pipe or geothermal system could be done over the summer break if the district was able to get the notice to bidders out and a contractor hired by early next year. If choosing to go with a remodel or a new building, that would take longer.

The board then went on a short walking tour of the school to see some of the issues and layout of the school. After the tour, the board then discussed funding. There would be some money available from the PPEL SAVE funding plan. ACSD Superintendent Jay Mathis explained that there is money budgeted over a three-year period for mechanical maintenance and upgrade at East. He also suggested that they could look into other funding options and they would have to see what Piper Jaffray says as well.

Board president Al Rissman noted that before the board could decide what route to take, it would have to explore funding options. There was also some discussion on having Shive Hattery do a study on West Elementary and the Middle School, as those buildings also have some issues with pipes and in the connecting tunnels. There was also discussion on rooftops, which is something that will need to be addressed in the future. However, the priority right now is the heating issue at East Elementary. The board advised Mathis to look into funding options and it would move on from there.

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