At Monday night’s USD 489 Board of Education meeting, the chiller unit at Roosevelt Elementary school was discussed. The school had been using a temporary unit while assessing permanent solutions.
District Architect Terry Ault presented details about multiple options for the district, including a rebuilt compressor. After being presented with the options, board member Lance Bickle addressed Ault and Francis Hammerschmidt, Building and Grounds Supervisor.
Hammerschmidt said that Joe Glassman, owner of one of the companies contacted about the work, stated he wouldn’t be pursuing that option (a refurbished compressor). Other companies contacted were Auman and Trane.
Board President Greg Schwartz used an example of a new car to illustrate how he views this situation.
“Joe Glassman and Trane Commercial don’t make the decisions about what we’re going to do; we do. That’s the problem. Here’s how I look at this. If you bought a car and you had a replacement plan for your car and it was every five years and after the third year your transmission went out on that car, you’re going to either go buy a new car if you can afford it or if you’re several hundred thousand dollars over budget like we are, you’re probably going to go buy the rebuilt or the refurbished transmission and make do with it.”
Ault added that the companies contacted about the 47 year old chilling system shared the same opinion: a new system was the most feasible course of action. At that point, Professional Engineering Consultants (PEC) was called in to evaluate the situation and provide options for the school board.
Both PEC and the companies contacted ultimately advised against pursuing rebuilt / refurbished units, though PEC did list a rebuilt compressor as a “risky and temporary solution“.
PEC specifically stated in the letter to the superintendent that “we fear that investing money in any solution besides total replacement of the existing chiller system is risky and short-term. The existing equipment is well beyond its expected lifespan (typically around 20 years), and any original components are highly susceptible to failure.”
Ault then summarized that the list of options presented Monday evening were a culmination of guidance from the administration when the original unit failed, suggestions from all contacted vendors, and PEC’s assessment once they became involved.
Schwartz said that pursuing a refurbished option sooner could have saved the district money.
The board voted 5-1 to move forward with getting bids for a completely rebuilt unit to have it installed in Roosevelt Elementary. The bids would be for work to be done using a refurbished compressor.