HVAC repairs cost CCPS $245K
— Cecil County Public Schools has spent nearly $250,000 in the last few months on emergency repairs to air conditioning units in two county schools.
Both the Cecil County School of Technology and the Bohemia Manor middle and high school complex have been using temporary chillers for the past few weeks as emergency repairs are made to their air conditioning systems. The air conditioning systems are expected to be back online by the end of the week — but at a cost.
Perry Willis, CCPS executive director of support services, told the school board on Monday night that the price tag for both projects will be approximately $245,000. At CCST, the cost of fixing the air conditioning and renting temporary equipment was $144,425 with the contract going to Seiberlich Trane, of New Castle, Del. At Bo Manor, the total project cost was $100,863 with the contract going to Johnson Controls, of Sparks, Willis said.
After approving the funds for the emergency repairs,
school board members were quick to note that emergency repairs like these are what happens when the county fails to provide adequate funds to deal with the school system’s backlog of deferred maintenance. During the last budget cycle, school officials said the system had approximately $44 million in deferred maintenance.
“We knew that this was go-
ing to catch up to us one day. We’ve done everything we can possibly do to keep our schools going, but we have to have air conditioning and heat in the buildings for the safety of our children and their health,” school board president Dawn Branch said. “It’s unfortunate but not for anyone in this room. We knew this day was coming and we’ve tried everything we can. The band-aids just didn’t work anymore.”
The emergency repairs to both air conditioning systems were complicated by the ages of the two chillers:
both are approximately 25 years old.
In the case of the CCST chiller, CCPS had put some money in the maintenance budget to work on it over the summer. But once school let out in June and the contractor came in to look at the chiller, they realized fixing it would be a bigger job than originally anticipated, Willis said.
The motor in the chiller had to be completely rebuilt, which necessitated sending it all the way to Baltimore, and other parts in the chiller were so old
that the contractor determined they wouldn’t survive the rebuild. All this extended the timeline of the project and meant CCPS had to bring in a temporary chiller so CCST could open for the first day of school on Aug. 29, Willis said.
“All of these things sort of snowballed,” he said. “That was a repair we had planned for; it just grew into something more.”
The repairs to the Bo Manor chiller though, were not anticipated, Willis said. That chiller started deteriorating “from the inside
out” and several parts were simply coming apart. Complicating the situation, several of the parts that needed to be replaced were so old that they’re no longer made, which meant fabrication took longer than anticipated, Willis said.
The length of time needed for the repair meant CCPS had to either bring in a temporary chiller or close the school, Willis said.
“Right now, this has been the best way to handle getting cooler temperatures in our buildings, particularly
with last week being in the ‘90s,” he said. “I don’t think we could have made it without the temporary chiller on site.”
Board member William Malesh agreed that the repairs are necessary but noted that the school system’s budget is generally so tight that emergency repairs like these put a strain on funding.
“It puts us in a real bad situation when something like this happens,” he said. “We have to search for money that isn’t hiding anywhere.”