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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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The Oregon City Schools District plans to install window air conditioners in the classrooms by next year.

“I’m very excited about this initiative,” said Superintendent Hal Gregory at a recent school board meeting. “I think it’s long overdue in coming. It’s something we all support and it’s really a low cost solution to a big, big problem.”

There will be a total of 200 units installed in the high school, intermediate and elementary schools once the project is completed, according to Dean Sandwich, director of business affairs in the district.

By last Wednesday, the day before school started, air conditioners were already installed at Clay.

“At Clay, we’re completely done,” said Sandwich. “We put in 36 units. The band room and auditorium are big so we’re still trying to figure out a viable solution. Window units would not be efficient there.”

822AirCondition1a
Airconditioners are set to be installed in classrooms
in the Oregon City School District by next year.
(Submitted photo)

The units were purchased for $160,000.

“It’s going to cost about $2 or less per unit for the duration of running them,” said Sandwich. “So if the air conditioning season is 6 weeks, that’s about 30 days, at a cost of about $12,000. It’s important to note we’ve added capacity just by virtue of putting in our LED lighting. So we’ve added capacity not only so we could have the energy and electricity to run these units, but also in the dollars saved from the LED lighting that will help us run the air conditioning as well. So we’re excited about that.”

Solar panels at Starr and the wind turbines at Eisenhower will also save energy costs as well, he added.

Health issue
Sandwich led the project, researching for the last five years how to efficiently cool the rooms.

“Air conditioning is really becoming more of a need than a want,” Sandwich told The Press last week. “A majority of households have air conditioning. It’s a health issue, which is what we’re seeing in our children.”

The district had already been providing air conditioning for students with special needs, he added.

“They have health conditions that require air conditioning.”

Following Clay, the next schools to get the units are Jerusalem Elementary, Fassett Junior High, Starr Elementary, and Eisenhower Intermediate.

“Our maintenance staff has moved onto Jerusalem, and started installing on Wednesday. Weather permitting, we’re hopeful, within a week or two, to have the third and second floors completed. Heat rises, and it is really uncomfortable on the upper floors. Then we’ll complete the first floor,” said Sandwich. After Jerusalem, the units will be installed at Fassett, then Starr.

“We have an automated system where we monitor the temperatures in every classroom. So we’ll be looking at the next hottest area. I think Fassett is hotter than Starr. The sun just really beats down on the classrooms in the front of the building,” said Sandwich.

Coy Elementary, one of the newest school buildings in the district, and a new addition to Clay, are excluded because they have central air conditioning. “Every other building does not have it,” said Sandwich.

The brand of air conditioners is Soleus, which Sandwich describes as very quiet. “They are less than 60 decibels, so you can be six feet from the unit and still hear the teacher.”

Gregory praised Sandwich and the maintenance crew for their efforts.


Cost effective
“They’ve done a lot of research on finding the best way to bring air conditioning into our school system without breaking the bank and doing it in a cost effective manner,” said Gregory. “An air conditioning unit was found that is effective, quiet, powerful, that is the right size, and priced the right way. The first four units installed at Clay have been running through some of the hottest days that we’ve had. And they have held steady. No problem whatsoever. My goal is to have air conditioning installed in all the schools by next summer. “

The cost to buy the units is estimated at $160,000. By comparison, cost estimates to install central air in the buildings was deemed too expensive at several millions of dollars.

“Certainly the kids will benefit tremendously. Anybody who has been in our buildings knows how hot they are on the hot days,” said Gregory.

Low cost
The district is not using monies in the General Fund or revenue from a 3.95 mill operating levy voters passed last November to pay for the air conditioners.

“The money we’ll use is from a recent Medicaid reimbursement of $350,000 that we received from the federal government. We used the first reimbursement we received to install turf on the football field,” he said.

It is uncertain if the district will see more Medicaid reimbursements in the future.

“We should receive payments up until this year. We actually have some meetings scheduled in the upcoming weeks to see if we’re going to continue the Medicaid reimbursements. Basically, it’s a lot of paperwork to fill out on the school’s end. Then it’s submitted to the Medicaid program. But the laws have changed in terms of how that may be submitted. So we’re not sure if there’s really any reimbursement to be had now. So we’ll reevaluate that. We certainly will do it if it’s feasible.”

 

 

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