Updated: A/C Failure Will Likely Cost School Board at Least $51K

Clarke County Maintenance director Bobby Levi says that returning teachers will not have a warm welcome when they return to work on Tuesday if he can help it.

On Monday night Levy received permission from the Clarke County School Board to rent a 250-ton tractor-trailer mounted chiller that that can be hooked into the high school’s air conditioning system which failed last week. The cost of the 60-day rental for the portable cooling system will be $51K and does not include the cost of utilities Levi said.

Levi told the School Board members that with daytime high temperatures at near 90 degrees, temperatures inside the CCHS classrooms were approaching 85 degrees.

This is not the first time that CCHS’s aging air conditioning system has malfunctioned.

Levi said the 24-year-old air conditioning system has “passed its life expectancy” after failing previously in 2007 and 2009. The repair cost in 2007 was $16K and the 2009 failure, which resulted in a complete overhaul of the system, cost $60K.

With the cost of a new air conditioning system estimated to be near $85,000, Levi said that he wasn’t comfortable with making the purchasing decision for a replacement unit given that the School Board has money available in its building renovation budget to cover a new system designed specifically for the needs of the building.

The Clarke County Board of Supervisors has pressed the School Board to provide a schedule for renovating several of its existing school buildings including the current Clarke County High School.

“We often have 90-degree weather in October” Levi noted. “A 250-ton chiller isn’t easy to come by so I recommend keeping it until we’re sure that we won’t need it any longer.”

While the School Board members voted unanimously to authorize Levy to move forward on the rental agreement, at least one school board member wasn’t pleased with the expenditure.

“The real problem here is that we shouldn’t be in a position where we have a 24-year-old chiller” said School Board member Janet Alger (Russell).

 

Update: Wednesday, August 9, 2011

According to school officials, Clarke has located a cheaper solution for helping students chill while an air conditioning failure is replaced.  Clarke Maintenance Manager BobbyLevi and Purchasing Mike Manager Legg say that they have located a cheaper chiller for the high school.  The new found source will cost the schools $29,590 for a three month chill deal; significantly cheaper than the $51K proposed on Monday night. Better yet, the new deal provides an extra month of cold air.   Levi hopes to have the chiller onsite by on Monday and in time for the opening of school. The estimated cost for the chiller installation is $3K.

Comments

  1. Summertime says:

    “The real problem here is that we shouldn’t be in a position where we have a 24-year-old chiller” said School Board member Janet Alger (Russell).”

    This is correct thinking for the sake of our children. For the sake of our children, raise taxes!

    • I like Janet, but that comment reminds me of our current congress and US President. Rather than place blame elsewhere, she should probably review the status of all our HVAC systems and report on those. It would look pretty bad to make a comment like that and then find out that another school is also in the same situation. Blame is a dangerous thing; it always comes back to find you, no matter how often you try to place it elsewhere.

      • Well, apparently the other HVAC systems are not having issues. Regardless, she said we shouldn’t be in a position where we have a 24-year-old chiller. I would take that as speaking to all of the schools if they indeed have 24-year-old (or older) chillers as well.

  2. Mr Mister says:

    What happened to the $60K overhaul? It didn’t last too long. I think you could get a lot of window units for less than $51K. If they are going to use this building in the future, I think the $51K is a waste since they’ll have to replace it next year for $85K or more.

    I think I have heard of schools not having air-conditioning before. I could be wrong.

    • Tammy Lanham says:

      Before all schools had AC they were built with large windows that could be opened – and large classrooms and hallways where students had enough space to move and breathe. CCHS is miserable when it’s hot, humid and air is not moving (pretty dark too when the power goes out I’d imagine). I hope the old building can somehow be salvaged and renovated to suit the needs of an elementary school, but I personally don’t think the rooms are large enough for cubbies, sinks, bookshelves, learning centers and bathrooms that are standard fare for grade schools….

      In the meantime it makes sense to invest in our public buildings now (and not constantly cut corners) so they can serve us all in the long term (say, more than 25 years!)

  3. ridiculous says:

    WOW!!! 51k for a rental and know one see this as an issue? I’m sorry but thats insane! For what a month more of warm weather. I didnt go to an air conditioned school and I survived!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Did your windows open? The HS’s don’t. I can’t imagine you would be able to concentrate in a stuffy, 85 degree room filled with sweaty, sticky teenagers.

  4. Sadly, this is further proof that – when you work to the lowest bidder – you often get what you pay (or don’t pay) for. That a $60K overhaul barely lasted 2 years is inexcusable.

  5. Bobs Sports Store says:

    WE have plenty of shoe strings available at the store that will provide the schools cooling system extended life.

  6. I must be getting old, but I remember having the windows open in the old high school because IT DIDN”T HAVE AIR CONDITIONING. Oddly enough, we all survived

  7. “With the cost of a new air conditioning system estimated to be near $85,000, Levi said that he wasn’t comfortable with making the purchasing decision for a replacement unit given that the School Board has money available in its building renovation budget to cover a new system designed specifically for the needs of the building.”

    Why would they not utilize the money designated for the new chiller instead of throwing away $51K? Is the building going to change that drastically?

  8. Mr Mister says:

    If you can get more than 10 years for a new system for the cost of $85000, why would you rent a system for only two months at a cost of $51000? Talk about a large band-aid.

  9. Because I Care says:

    A “complete” $60,000 overhaul to the system in 2009?!?! And it has completely failed in 2011? Somebody needs to go after the company that did the complete overhaul and demand either a prorated refund or a free repair! The system should still be almost like new!

  10. “According to school officials, Clarke has located a cheaper solution for helping students chill while an air conditioning failure is replaced.”

    Hmm. “Cheaper solution” ? Haven’t we heard that one before?

  11. Concerned says:

    Hmmm…maintenance comes from the word maintain….seems like with a breakdown just 2 years after a 60k renovation and the high temperatures we had this summer, maybe someone should have been maintaining a little better…as for Janet Algers comment it seems to be right on cue with me. It’s not her job to know all about the A/C systems, it’s Mr Levi’s job. Maybe he is pulled in too many directions overseeing all of the county buildings and the school buildings. First we have all of the problems with the new government building, now we have this. With the new high school close to being put in use, perhaps we should ensure we have a Maintenance Supervisor who is at the top of his game technology wise. Does Our current supervisor of maintenance have the background to oversee all of this?

  12. livein22611 says:

    New a/c units don’t get installed ovenight. But since you guys seem to know everything you shoudl already know that. What is your wonderful solution for Aug., Sept., and Oct. while the new unit is installed? Let the kids and the staff cook? Turn off your a/c at home in a show of support.
    No, the windows don’t open. Both for safety and security. “Back in the day” you didn’t have to worry about your laptops being stolen.
    The chiller is 24 years old because things in our school system where left to run down and rot. Things seem to be improving as fast as they can with the limited money the schools get. Get off Mr. Levi’s back. Go back about 5 or 10 years when this equipment should have been replaced and yell at those idiots. Or better yet, quit commenting on things you know little about.

  13. Clarke County infrastructure, Schools & Government buildings are a shameful mess. . Every week there seems to be another story about things just falling to pieces. Hey I have an idea!!! Let’s put a Micky-D’s in and all get together for a happy meal!!! That will make it all better!!!

    • Tugs Dad,

      Watch your sarcasm, because just one named brand Food place would generate a massive amount of revenue…. You would probably be first in line to get your 99Cent Double Cheeseburger and Hot Coffee….Why do you think we are in such a bad mess? We have no tax base…. Do you think the Rug Store is gonna keep us afloat?

  14. Concerned says:

    I don’t see anyone on Mr. Levi’s back, I see a group of concerned taxpayers commnting on what may be the issues that led up to this problem and several others. Mr. Levi obviously works hard day to day trying to keep up with all of this and trying to save us money. However, maybe he needs some help or further education to deal with his rapidly growing job title:)