109 Air Conditioning Project Shows Teamwork
After a parent outcry during a hot start to school, a thorough approach by District 109 will make cooler classrooms on hot days a reality.
What began as a public outcry during the hottest days of last summer and a promise from Deerfield Public Schools District 109 Board of Education members and administrators to investigate turned into the reality of air conditioning for the Village’s elementary and middle schools.
Some or all of the schools will be air conditioned before the next school year begins. Starting with the two-story buildings, everything should be done before the 2014 school year begins.
“We’re going to make it work as best we can,” Board President Ellen London said in September.
It almost seemed like exceedingly hot weather, parent discontent and studies by the District 109 Board of Education were coming together at once to cool things off. In the end, the Board was unanimous in its decision but will spend more than it originally hoped.
“If we’re lucky it will cost $7 million,” Board member Nick Begley said in September. “If we’re not lucky it could cost a lot more. That’s why we have to make sure all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed.”
Though the final cost is more than twice what was originally hoped when additional capital expenditures were added, the entire project was within funds the District had set aside for long term improvements, according to comments made by Deputy Superintendent Greg Himebaugh at the Board’s Jan. 14 meeting.
“You can make it work from our existing fund balance,” Himebaugh said Jan. 14. The scheduling of the overall work allows the payments to be made in three fiscal years. “That’s kind of what I had in mind.”
Board member Steve Schwartz explained there were proposals as low as $8 million but when all needs were considered on a long term basis, the $15 million price tag made more sense including the removal of the existing wall units in some classrooms in favor of a central system.
“We have more hot days and kids with asthma and allergies seem to be on the rise,” Schwartz said. “This will do the job right. Not only is it less noisy but we would gain class space. Though the cost came in at $15 million, we planned to do a lot of the work anyway.”
Some of the work included in the proposal was planned whether air conditioning was added or not. “If you take out the total amount we would have had to do anyway, the job is closer to $10 million,” Schwartz said.