Delta County School District has over a million square feet of facilities, so keeping energy costs down is understandably a major focus for maintenance supervisor John McHugh and his crew.
The school district spends over $400,000 annually on electricity and more than $316,000 for natural gas.
Rising utility costs make it even more important to upgrade roofs, boilers and lighting as funds allow.
This fall, McHugh and assistant superintendent Todd Markley visited every facility in the district to update a three- to five-year facility plan. McHugh recapped their findings at a recent school board meeting.
In 2008, voters were asked to approve a bond that would cover replacement of the roofs and heating/mechanical systems at six schools that are about 30 years old. Funds would have also gone toward remodeling Cedaredge Elementary School.
Although the question failed, the maintenance issues have not gone away. A BEST (Building Excellent Schools Today) grant enabled the CES project to be completed, and roofs have been replaced as money has been available. The boilers have been replaced at the high schools, resulting in huge savings for the school district, McHugh said.
"There's not a lot of money available in our capital construction fund, but we stretch it as far as we can," McHugh said.
To continue to improve energy efficiency, McHugh proposes to replace the lighting in the high school parking lots with high efficient LED lighting that will require just 24 percent of the electricity currently being used. That project will mean one of the roof replacements will have to be postponed until 2013-14.
McHugh also plans to pursue smaller BEST grants for fire alarms, additional boiler replacements and foam roof systems at several schools.
Three types of grants are available through the competitive BEST program, which combines State Land Trust monies and Colorado Lottery spillover funds. BEST funds for the construction of new schools have been temporarily suspended.
That's a moot point for the larger construction projects on the drawing board, McHugh said, because the district does not have the matching funds that would be required. It may be time to talk about another bond question, "as hard as that might be to swallow," he said.
Two of the major projects which have been discussed with the school board include renovation of the Hunsicker building in Cedaredge and replacement of the aging sixth grade wing at Delta Middle School.
A portion of the "old" Cedaredge Elementary School has been renovated for use by the Surface Creek Vision Home and Community Program. There have been ongoing discussions with community groups, including the senior citizens, about turning the kitchen and cafeteria into an area suitable for the senior lunch program. The senior citizens are willing to commit some funds to the kitchen renovation, and to pay rent for use of the building. While McHugh doesn't believe district funds will be needed for that phase of the project, parking is an issue that will have to be addressed. McHugh has a longterm vision of removing the modular classrooms, moving the bus barn to the site, and creating a large parking lot for use by both the community groups and Vision learners.
Architect Phil Motley and Bighorn Engineering have done some preliminary work on the project, McHugh said.
DMS Sixth Grade
Another "work in progress" is the "worn out" sixth grade wing at Delta Middle School, which houses 146 students and seven classrooms. "In a perfect world," McHugh said, "we would build an eight- to 10-classroom wing with a commons/cafeteria that connects the current 7/8 building to the new addition."
After running the numbers, though, McHugh said there is no way the school district will be able to come up with the matching funds for a BEST grant. "We would have to look at a bond," he said.
The bond firm previously employed by the district says it will take a minimum of two years to build support for a bond question.
In the meantime, McHugh said he will continue working on the facility plan and focus on maintenance and energy efficiency.blog comments powered by Disqus