CMS cooling fix delayed till spring

Bat infestation created more urgent problem

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What to do about cooling some upper-level classrooms at Cortez Middle School is still unresolved.

Earlier this fall, temperatures in some classrooms climbed into the upper 80s and the low 90s. On Friday, CMS Principal Jamie Haukeness said he hasn’t had any complaints about hot rooms for three weeks because of cooler weather.

The Re-1 school district’s administration and Haukeness battled a bat infestation for a week or so, and the cooling issue took a back seat for a while, said Re-1 Chief Financial Officer Melissa Brunner.

Brunner said the district has decided against painting part of the building’s roof white in an attempt to bring cooler air into the school through seven air handlers.

A contractor, McKinstry, is still working on the building’s air control system, Brunner said. The work was supposed to have been completed by the beginning of the school year, but now the target completion date is mid-October.

The electronic control system will automatically open and close the dampers on the air handlers and will not allow air over the set point, approximately 75 degrees, to enter the building, Brunner said via email. In winter, the dampers will allow the boilers to insert heat instead.

“Having this automatic system will help tremendously with the temperature of certain sections of the remodel at CMS,” she said. “As the control system is updated, we need to see what the actual capabilities are of the system as is, before we start making alterations to the process. Also, as winter is coming, we prefer to have the black surface assist in melting of snow this winter.”

The building also needs a new compressor and chiller, but those are not affordable for the district. Mike Chenard, the district’s maintenance foreman, has said a new air chiller would cost $40,000, plus $35,000 in labor to install and $15,000 for the use of a crane.

Brunner noted that the school currently has a 50-ton chiller, but original plans called for a 130-ton unit. Haukeness said the 50-ton chiller is not working at all.

The district plans to convert the air handlers to swamp coolers by next spring, Haukeness said.

“It will be a work in process,” Brunner said, “but we will have something in place before the temperatures increase in May to the 90 degrees, which is normal for that time of year.”