Archive for Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A chill in the air

McLouth middle school students, staff bundling up

November 22, 2005

The air's a little nippy in the middle school wing of the McLouth school building.

As temperatures drop outside, the McLouth school district is replacing furnace units inside its school.

Superintendent Jean Rush said Thursday that the school district inspects heating and air-conditioning units throughout the school twice each year -- in the fall and spring.

In October, inspectors found units with cracked heat exchangers.

Rush said the school ordered 11 units last month -- three rooftop furnaces and eight regular ground-level furnace units. Workers inspected the new furnaces and now are in the process of replacing the old units, which Rush said could take about two weeks.

The McLouth superintendent said the procedure is similar to what homeowners do before the winter season.

"It's no different when you fire them up at home," the McLouth school superintendent said. "It's routine maintenance; make sure everything's safe."

Information recently was sent home with students that told parents of the situation, and that students should dress accordingly while the furnaces gradually were being replaced.

The superintendent said students were wearing sweatshirts to combat cooler classrooms.

Most furnaces are being replaced in the wing of the school where most middle school classes are held. Elementary, middle school and high school classes all are taught in one building.

Rush said the school prepares its budget each year knowing that it's possible furnaces could need to be replaced. The budget includes funding for two to three furnace units each year.

After the October inspection, the school board approved the purchase of new furnaces, not to exceed $81,000, Rush said.

And within the next two weeks, Rush hopes all the new furnaces are operational for the winter season.

"They sure look nicer than the old ones," Rush said.

In Tonganoxie, superintendent Richard Erickson said Tonganoxie resident Larry Wilson of US Engineering, Kansas City, Mo., inspects the school district's heating and cooling equipment annually.

Erickson also said maintenance officials at the school inspect equipment as well.

"If our maintenance staff feels there are pieces of equipment that aren't working properly, they'll try to diagnose the problem," Erickson said. "Most of our checks take place when we're having minor difficulty or major difficulties."

In addition, the school does regular checks on its boiler system, which Erickson said is required by state codes.

The last time the school district had difficulties with heating, Erickson said, was about seven or eight years ago when a broken pipe caused flooding in the high school boiler room -- in January.

The water shorted out boiler equipment and the high school was without heat.

Erickson said the school purchased small portable heater units to use in the school until the boiler system was fixed.

"That sufficed," Erickson said. "It wasn't a comfortable situation for our students."

Erickson said he didn't recall canceling school while the boiler system was repaired.

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