School will see HVAC work

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Supervisors in Charlotte County have agreed to move forward with HVAC repairs at Eureka Elementary School which will cost an estimated $3 million.

“The situation that the school is in is pretty serious,” said Drakes Branch Supervisor Garland H. Hamlett Jr. “If it doesn’t get fixed, then we’re gonna have somebody get hurt.”

Red House/Cullen Supervisor Dr. Nancy Carwile said the request came from the school board regarding the repairs.

“While completing repairs on a pipe leak in December, it was discovered that the pipes in the ceiling of the classrooms at Eureka have significantly corroded,” said Division Superintendent Dr. Nancy Leonard. “The corrosion occurred over many years and to the degree that there was urgent concern that the heating and cooling system could fail at any time, leaving 500 students displaced. The extent of the corrosion was such that a repair would be an extensive HVAC replacement project to heat or cool the school.”

Skanska Building USA representative Curtis Elswick was present at a recent meeting of the board of supervisors, noting estimates were received to carry out repairs.

Elswick said repairs would include HVAC mechanical systems, plumbing work, electrical systems, roofing, structural steel to accommodate rooftop mechanical units and the roof hatch, ladders for the roof hatch, demolition of ceilings, removal of existing mechanical units, patching and replacement of ceiling tile.

An estimated $2.1 million would be spent on HVAC and electrical work and $400,000 would be slated for the roofing.

Various other components of the project push the estimate to $3 million, according to Elswick.

“These units are much more efficient than the current system,” said Keysville Supervisor Robert L. “Butch” Shook. “We anticipate some savings from that.”

Elswick said Skanska is assisting with the planning of the repairs and helping to identify suitable contractors.

Skanska is the project manager for the county’s $3.9 million courthouse project.

Leonard said she, along with the school board, offered a presentation to supervisors in February concerning the school’s budgetary needs and a six-year capital improvement plan.

“An urgent need at Eureka was outlined to the board of supervisors regarding the heating, cooling and ventilation system at Eureka,” she said. “While the school system has expressed HVAC concerns at Eureka through a facilities study, in open session at school board meetings, and with the board of supervisors, the extent of the problem became more evident and pressing mid-year.”

Elswick said a section of the school would be blocked off and students would be moved around in the building while work is being performed. He said the division would save money by moving the students within the building, citing the cost to set up modular units at roughly $500,000.

“It would not be a quick fix and would have potential to disrupt the education for the students at Eureka,” Leonard said. “I expressed to the board of supervisors that at no time did we feel that students or staff were in danger at Eureka, but that a system failure would prevent the school from being used by students for an extended period, thus, causing a serious educational facilities dilemma at Eureka.”

According to Elswick, the work is anticipated to be complete before the summer of 2018 and repairs will begin after school has closed this year.

Citing needed building improvements at the county’s elementary schools, talks of a 950-student consolidated school were first discussed in 2015.

Based on information in the school division’s six-year capital improvement plan, options included the $3 million stand-alone renovation project for Eureka in addition to two other options, including a 550-student consolidated school for Bacon and Phenix, while addressing the urgent needs at Eureka and total consolidation of all elementary schools.

According to the plan, the cost of a consolidated 550 student school is estimated at $16 million, which would total $21 million including the cost of Eureka’s repairs and secondary schools capital improvements. Secondary schools include Central Middle and Randolph-Henry High.

The cost of a new 950-student consolidated school is estimated at a little over $26 million, which would include secondary schools capital improvements, the plan cited.

“The board of supervisors (has) agreed to move forward with the urgent repairs at Eureka,” said Leonard. However, the school board has not been advised as to which option the board of supervisors will fund to address the facilities concerns at Bacon and Phenix.”

She said an additional meeting will be held for parents when a clearer plan of the construction schedule is available for Eureka.