Sunday, April 8, 2012

$4 million in capital improvements needed over the next 6 years

A recent facilities study has recommended $4 million of capital expenses to get our four schools up to code. The study by architect Gary Goudreau turns out to be an inch-thick report detailing violations of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), IBC (International Building Code) 2009 , NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) 101 Life Safety code, Mechanical and Electrical codes.  Mr. Goudreau boiled down the giant report to a few pages of recommendations and Business Administrator Sue Caswell summarized it on a single page at the end.   Andrea Bullfinch reported on the study in Foster's.

95% of the money is in the Mechanical and Electrical categories, so I didn't find the breakdown by code type particularly useful.    Instead I created this summary by term and school.

It's worth pointing out that last month the public approved energy audits for the middle school and the two elementary schools.  These aren't finished yet, so there may be more costs yet to be added.

The middle school, which is our oldest building, accounts for almost half of the money.   HVAC (heading, ventilation, and air conditioning) improvements use about half of the middle school money.

The high school, despite the alarming energy audit a few months ago, appears to be in the best shape.   There is a "retro-conditioning" of the HVAC systems included here ($120K), and it's not clear how much this money overlaps with the funds recently allocated for HVAC repair there.

The elementary school issues are also mostly HVAC and lighting.

If we want to raise this money over a six year period, it works out to $672K per year, about a 1.75% addition to the budget and taxes.   Some of this may already be in the budget, e.g. as maintenance expenses.  Things like HVAC work often end up saving money eventually, due to more efficient use of fuel.  Nonetheless, these costs represents another blow to everyone hoping for lower taxes, which has got to be pretty much everyone.

Mr. Goudreau pointed out that these numbers are not very firm.   There are code changes that may raise or lower these numbers.  Furthermore, some of the costs were unknown or guessed at.   Even given the uncertainties, the report gives valuable information to feed into our strategic planning.