By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – Bids to add air conditioning in three Ashwaubenon schools were approved March 17 by the school board.
Adding air conditioning throughout Ashwaubenon High School, Valley View Elementary School and Pioneer Elementary School is part of a $10.05 million capital referendum district voters approved last April.
Of the referendum total, the district estimated the cost of installing air conditioning throughout the three Ashwaubenon schools would be $4.35 million.
However, Facilities and Maintenance Coordinator Tom Schmitt said the bids the district received from six companies “came in significantly higher than… when we put together the referendum.”
“What we did was we took the two low responsible bidders and provided them some scope reductions that we would like to see,” he said.
As a result, Schmitt said the scope of the air conditioning work was reduced by about $1.68 million “without significantly affecting any of the classrooms.”
Schmitt said the Ashwaubenon Site Plan Review Committee granted the district an exception from a village code requirement at the high school and Valley View, so it won’t be necessary to screen rooftop ductwork from view.
“The net effect of that was (a savings of) about $600,000,” he said. “We were pretty excited (March 16) when we were granted that exception.”
Business Director Keith Lucius said the district worked with Village President Mary Kardoskee and Community Development Director Aaron Schuette to obtain the exception.
“We worked with them very closely, and they helped us know how the committee could grant the exception (and) what we needed to do,” Lucius said.
The district and the firm it is working with, Brander Engineering, asked the committee for an exemption from the screening requirement at the high school and Valley View because of the following hardships:
• Additional wind loads imposed on the existing steel roof joints.
• Additional snow drift loads.
• Degradation of existing roof from multiple penetrations.
Given the possible objections rooftop ductwork unscreened from view could generate, Schmitt said Brander Engineering helped design the ductwork to be “more aesthetically pleasing in the community.”
“The net effect was about $2.281 million in scope reduction, and we’re still going to condition the air in almost all the classrooms of the school district, so we’re pretty excited about making that happen,” he said.
Schmitt said “value engineering” was also used to help reduce the cost of the project, such as switching from copper to aluminum wire to power the chillers to save around $100,000 and changing the 800-amp electrical service on the south side of the high school to a 2,000-amp service for a savings of around $180,000.
“Those were two good value engineering feats we accomplished,” he said.
A summary of anticipated expenses and funding sources presented to the board indicated the district would need additional funds beyond the $4.35 million estimated as part of the referendum to add the air conditioning.
When including Brander Engineering’s fees, a 3-percent project contingency and rooftop ductwork-related expenses with the project costs, total expenses could exceed $5.7 million, according to the expense summary.
In addition to the $4.35 million in allocated referendum funds, Lucius said the district could reallocate around $300,000 saved in completed referendum-related projects for the air conditioning work.
He said another $37,500 is being saved with safety upgrades included in the referendum for Cormier and Pioneer schools.
Lucius said $200,000 was included in the referendum for asbestos abatement, but he doesn’t expect the entire amount to be used for that purpose, so $100,000 could be freed up for the air conditioning.
He said ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) grant funds the district is receiving could also be applied to the air conditioning project.
“We feel comfortable that we can lock in $600,000 of that money, of the ESSER funds, towards this project, because it’s improving the air quality in buildings, which is written right in the ESSER program,” Lucius said. “That includes the ionization of the buildings, so we will have ionized air, which will reduce particles in the air and allow us to do a much better job filtering…”
He said Fund 46, which is a savings account for maintenance projects, could be used if needed to complete the air conditioning project.
The board approved awarding $5,054,090 to IEI for the air conditioning work and another $432,532 to Automatic Logic Corporation for the heating, air conditioning and ventilation control project.