PE School Roof Estimate Sought

Published 2:13 pm Tuesday, November 26, 2013

PRINCE EDWARD — It won’t hit the County’s wallet to take a look, but the cost estimate could be a sizeable one.

County school board members, with the help of Honeywell International Inc., will get a preliminary proposal that will give cost estimates for middle school repairs including replacing the middle school roof, rooftop heating and air conditioning units nearing the end of their useful life, replacing the hot water boilers with dual fuel boilers, upgrading the HVAC control system and enclosing the fifth grade entrance way.

“We’ve talked about this in previous budget sessions as being the most pressing priority among all the needs in the schools,” Division Superintendent Dr. David Smith told County supervisors at their November 14 meeting.

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The school board authorized the superintendent in October to prepare and release a request for proposals for engineering services and to analyze the roof at the middle school and make recommendations for best ways to replace it.

In the process of doing that research, Dr. Smith cited, he met with Honeywell, which has long had a maintenance contract for HVAC and heat systems with public schools. The superintendent noted that “have done a wonderful job for Prince Edward County.”

Honeywell detailed a process they have used in other school divisions to facilitate a performance contracting mechanism in school renovation work tied primarily to energy enhancements. The process has several steps, the first of which would not cost the county, includes requesting the firm to provide a preliminary proposal. That step is expected to give the school system cost estimates for the middle school projects as well as the career tech center boilers, control systems and that roof as well.

“It’s non-binding and it’s at no cost to the school board or to the county,” Dr. Smith said.

It will be an engineering study of the systems and include cost projects of potential energy savings.

“Now this proposal will be binding if it’s accepted by the school board and the County and if the project moves forward,” Dr. Smith said. “It’s not binding until that time.”

The decision would be made after the proposal is returned on what parts would be accepted and rejected, Dr. Smith detailed.

The big step involves funding, though there are no cost estimates yet and possible funding options. Debt service, it was noted, is expected to fall by $20,000 in the current fiscal year, and $247,000 in 2017.

“So, over the next four years, with those items dropping off, it’s conceivable that additional indebtedness might not increase the total debt service load on the school system and on the county,” Dr. Smith said.

The energy savings would also help offset some of the cost of the work, he detailed.

Honeywell would not do all the work in-house, but would seek bids for the projects.

“With this plan, Honeywell becomes, in effect, the general contractor and the project manager, but they are not the provider for all of the components,” Dr. Smith explained. “The controls—HVAC controls and possibly boilers, but definitely controls—would be considered sole source. They would take care of bidding out all of the other components.”

Honeywell, a company spokesman detailed at the school board’s November 13 meeting, has done other performance contracting.

“…The basics of performance contracting is to implement needed capital projects now, to do it in such a way that you reduce your annual maintenance and energy costs…as well…really reduce unbudgeted expenses,” Honeywell’s Wayne Womble explained.

The move to replace the boilers from oil-fired furnaces, Dr. Smith detailed, would give them the capability to be switched back and forth between oil and propane. It would let them take advantage of market fluctuations and give added flexibility.

Should school officials proceed, the next step after the preliminary proposal is to negotiate a memorandum of understanding and proceed with a detailed engineering study; review the project scope, savings, finance options and energy services agreement; contract approval; construction; and measurement and verification of improvements including annual reconciliation.

School officials are expected to be a part in developing the preliminary proposal.

And it will give some specifics.

Womble noted that the proposal has some requirements “so as part of asking us to do that, we have to come back in within 85 percent of any energy savings that would be associated with this and 110 percent of price.”

What a new middle school roof would look like is still to be determined. Dr. Smith noted that they would look at the feasibility to converting to a pitched roof, but would not make a commitment if that were the best option.

The work, it was also noted in the school board presentation, could be fast-tracked so much of the work could be done over the summertime, though it was also cited that work that would not interrupt classrooms could be done into the school year.

The school board voted to seek the preliminary proposal for the middle school with HVAC controls at the career tech center (they would eventually discuss adding a the look at the roof and boilers at the center as well). Their vote, however, was not unanimous. Board member Dr. Lawrence Varner reflected that the board had approved a request for proposal for professional services/engineering analysis for the middle school roof.

“You approved the development and release of it and, as I said at the beginning of this, in the discussion leading up to the development and release of that, this proposal addressed that and went way beyond it at the same time,” Dr. Smith would comment. “That’s why we’re having the discussion today.”

It was information, he would later detail that came to light after that meeting.

“We already made a vote last time that we didn’t follow through on,” Dr. Varner would comment, after opposing the vote.