School district facing HVAC, lighting aging in most schools

Posted 12/6/19

PITTSBORO — Chatham County Schools says 15 of its 17 schools are facing the expense of replacements for aging HVAC and lighting systems.

School officials discussed the matter with county …

The News + Record is worth reading!

We’re all about Chatham County, and we welcome you to our site. You can view up to 3 stories each month, then registration is required.

Please sign in below if you have an account. If not, please register here to get an account and an additional 7 stories each month. It’s easy and takes just a minute.

Our staff works hard to bring good journalism, writing and story-telling to Chatham County. HELP US! You can get the News + Record mailed to you weekly by subscribing here.

Please log in to continue

Log in

School district facing HVAC, lighting aging in most schools

Thanks for reading Chatham County’s leading news source! Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing to the News + Record – you can do so by clicking here.

Posted

PITTSBORO — Chatham County Schools says 15 of its 17 schools are facing the expense of replacements for aging HVAC and lighting systems.

School officials discussed the matter with county government officials last month as part of a meeting about the 2021-2027 Capital Improvements Plan. The item was the subject of a relatively lengthy portion of the workshop.

“Many of our schools do not have any indoor quality air units,” said Randy Drumheller, the district’s director of maintenance and construction.

According to the CIP, only two of the county’s 17 public schools — Margaret B. Pollard Middle School, opened in 2011, and Virginia Cross Elementary School, opened in 2007 — were built “using energy efficient construction and mechanical systems.” The majority of the other schools’ HVAC units “have outlived their projected life expectancy, are inefficient and need replacement,” while “most of the lighting in these schools is provided by outdated/inefficient” fixtures.

“Taking care of these two issues at our schools will potentially result in substantial energy savings for the district,” the plan said, “and would create an opportunity to take advantage of more environmentally responsible technologies and systems.”

The CIP’s recommended solution is to “create a long-term (seven years or longer) project that will provide a to-be-determined amount of money to be used annually to upgrade HVAC and lighting systems to provide more energy efficient systems.”

These types of projects — seeking to addressing a widespread need over a long period of time ­— are fairly common in CIPs, particularly within the school system which has many facilities. Next year, the district is planning to wrap up an eight-year long project to replace roofs at 14 schools and other buildings as well as a five-school, three-year effort to renovate locker rooms.

The HVAC and lighting plan has no determined cost and is not yet scheduled, but CCS Superintendent Derrick Jordan made particular mention of it, saying the district will “bring something at some point that makes sense.”

“It is a massive undertaking,” Jordan said. “We were concerned enough to know the conversations we needed to have.”

The school district already has a slate of capital projects scheduled — particularly finishing and opening Chatham Grove Elementary and Seaforth High School and building a new Central Services building. The total estimated cost of all eight of the system’s approved and scheduled projects is nearly $129 million.

Commissioner Jim Crawford said he hoped the county and the district can put together a plan to help “achieve parity” across the county.

“It need to be addressed because there’s resentments and it’s not fair,” he said. “We need to show everybody in Chatham that all kids matter.”

Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at zhorner@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment