Heights approves maintenance agreement for HVAC services
During Monday’s regular USD 335 Board of Education meeting, board members approved a one-year agreement with a Topeka firm for maintenance of heating and air conditioning units in the Jackson Heights school district.
Board members also asked district maintenance personnel to shadow representatives of the firm so that they will know how to service the HVAC units after that year is over.
The board voted 5-1 to approve the agreement with McElroy’s Plumbing Electrical Heating and Air at a cost of $13,904 for “peak performance preventative maintenance” of HVAC systems in the district and refrigeration units at the high school. Board member Neal Keeler voted against the agreement, although he noted he was more opposed to the price tag than the maintenance work.
“To me, it sounds like an awful lot of money,” Keeler said. “But if we’re not getting all the things done that we’re supposed to do, maybe it would help.”
In response to a request made at the board’s Dec. 8 meeting, district superintendent and elementary principal Adrianne Walsh looked at district expenses for three years when the district had a maintenance agreement with McElroy’s and three years without a maintenance agreement. Based on the figures presented, Walsh said Monday she was not certain that having an agreement in place would be cost-effective for the district.
However, Walsh noted the three-year stretch with the maintenance agreement and three years without were “a little bit like apples to oranges” because the agreement was in place when the district relied on “the old boiler system” for heating. The district has since swapped the boiler system for a geothermal heating and cooling system that went into service during the 2008-09 school year.
Since the district has not had a maintenance agreement on the geothermal system, Walsh took such an agreement into consideration and contacted McElroy’s for suggested costs for a year’s agreement. The $13,904 price tag covered all buildings in the district, while a second bid of $10,998 covered only the high school, and board members stated their willingness to take the deal that covered the whole district.
But after Keeler asked whether “our guys are getting more qualified to do some of the minor maintenance stuff” on the geothermal system, other board members suggested the possibility of having district staff shadow McElroy’s personnel during maintenance visits. Walsh agreed, noting she plans to send some district maintenance personnel to an upcoming training session for heating systems.
Keeler, noting the agreement was “more of a peace of mind thing,” said that while he was not opposed to district workers learning how to take care of the HVAC systems, he would “hate to pay (McElroy’s) all that money if they’re going to come around and do the same thing our guys are doing.” He also expressed concern that the maintenance agreement would not cover HVAC air filters and “whatever else they need” to make repairs.
Board member Kelly Kennedy agreed, but added that there were certain minor repairs to the geothermal system that “weren’t getting done,” and since McElroy’s was offering the district a discount on labor, it would be good to take advantage of the offer for a year. The only question Kennedy had, however, was whether the district would have “enough manpower” and time to handle the shadowing duties.
“Some of this probably requires specialized equipment that we may not have,” Kennedy added. “But I’m willing to train our people so that we can do it ourselves.”
The maintenance agreement approved by the board involves a schedule of two visits by McElroy’s personnel — once at the spring start-up of cooling units and once at the fall start-up of heating units. The contract does not include replacement of belts, motors, compressors, failed components and air filters, it was noted.
In other business on Monday, board members reviewed a request from the Bullmasters 4-H shooting sports team for the use of the district’s elementary and high school gymnasiums on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 20 and 21, for a fund-raising event. It was reported that the event would likely involve the shooting of BB guns and air pellet guns.
Walsh noted that the Bullmasters had requested the use of the Jackson Heights facilities as a “plan B” if the Jackson County Fair Building — the site of previous Bullmasters shooting events in Holton — would not be available. The Fair Building has been purchased by the Holton school district, which is planning to convert the building into a bus barn, it has been reported.
However, Holton superintendent Dennis Stones on Tuesday said that the Bullmasters would be allowed to use the Fair Building for their event on Feb. 20 and 21. Stones added that the Holton district would take possession of the Fair Building sometime during the first half of February but would not need to use it for storage of construction materials until March.
On Monday, Walsh expressed two concerns about the Bullmasters’ request to use the Jackson Heights gyms, the first being “the whole ‘guns in school’ thing.” But after speaking with parents of some children who participate in Bullmasters, she told board members, “it appears that it’s done very safely,” even though representatives of the Kansas Association of School Boards “didn’t think it was a real fabulous idea.”
The second concern expressed by Walsh involved possible damage to school property, particularly the gym floors. She and school board members agreed that before organizations such as the Bullmasters could use the school property, they would need to provide proof of liability insurance, in case such damages would occur.
Board members also:
* Noted the absence of board member Doug Amon.
* Approved the meeting’s agenda and consent agenda, the latter including minutes from the board’s Dec. 7 special meeting and Dec. 8 regular meeting, monthly bills and activity account reports and the acceptance of a Prairie Band grant for $3,072.
* Approved, on a 5-1 vote, a district calendar for the 2015-16 school year, establishing Wednesday, Aug. 19 as the first day of school, Wednesday, May 18, 2016, as the last day of school and giving students a full two weeks for Christmas break. Wareham was the dissenting voter, expressing preference for an alternate calendar option.
* Approved the appointment of Jim Long of Lawrence as the district auditor for the 2014-15 school year, replacing David Bogner, who retired. Walsh noted that Long, who had worked with Bogner in the past, had received good recommendations from the Royal Valley and Onaga school districts.
* Discussed options for the possible purchase of a new floor scrubbing machine to replace one at the elementary school that Walsh said was in need of major repair. Board members favored having Walsh continue to look into purchasing options for a new scrubber, as well as repairing the old one.
* Heard a report from Walsh on school bus issues and advised her to seek bids for a new bus.
* Heard a report from Walsh on an application for a Kansas Department of Health and Environment grant for reconstruction of the Jackson Heights High School track.
* Learned from Walsh that work on the district technology plan has begun, with a plan for the 2015-16 school year likely to come before the board in March.
* Heard a report on elementary school activities from Walsh, including the donation of “gold dollars” from Denison State Bank for educational purposes, technology upgrades for second-grade students, an upcoming professional development day on Monday, Jan. 19 and fifth and sixth-grade students participating in the Jackson County Spelling Bee on Saturday, Jan. 24.
* Heard a report from middle and high school principal Darren Shupe on middle and high school activities, including building work, upcoming in-service on Jan. 19, seventh and eighth-grade students participating in the Jackson County Spelling Bee, financial aid and FAFSA training for students on Wednesday, Jan. 28 and the FFA’s upcoming hay auction on Friday, Feb. 6.
* Met in executive session with Walsh for 15 minutes to discuss teacher contract negotiations and non-elected personnel matters. No action resulted from the session.
* Heard a request from board member Ed Rostetter to have replacement of a football training sled on the next meeting’s agenda.
* Adjourned the meeting at 8:30 p.m.