HVAC re­pairs cost CCPS $245K

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By JES­SICA IANNETTA

jian­netta@ce­cil­whig.com

— 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,

ELKTON

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.”

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