Elmwood school board OKs $2.2M HVAC project

For The Weekly Post

ELMWOOD – After years of discussion, and plenty of warm August school days, the Elmwood School Board on Monday approved the installation of a new heating and cooling system for the grade school building.

Cost of the HVAC project is estimated to be $2.29 million. Warner Mechanical LLC of Edwards had the low base bid of $2.02 million (before add-ons and $109,200 for contingencies) and will be awarded the project after the board voted unanimously to move ahead. Other bidders were O’Brien Brothers Inc. ($2.16 million base bid), Mechanical Service Inc. ($2.3 million) and The Pipco Companies, LTD ($2.438 million).

Original estimates presented to the board six months ago pegged the cost of the project at closer to $1.664 million. But board member Mark Davis, a member of the building committee, said several factors led to the increased price.

“There’s labor that’s going up, material costs, all kinds of things,” Davis said. “And everybody and their brother in the education world has the ESSER funds, so there’s lots of work right now.”

The building committee also made three additions to the project since the original estimate: adding a third boiler for heating redundancy ($82,000), filling a ventilator wall opening with brick and block ($10,000) and putting new LED lights in grade school classrooms ($70,000).

“Once we get this done, the school from the north end to the south end will have the same lighting and the same infrastructure,” Davis said.

To pay for the project, the district will use $722,340 in federal ESSER funds and $414,623 from the Peoria County School Facility Sales Tax. That leaves $1.156 million to be borrowed as part of a bond issuance.

Board member Claude Keefer noted that taxpayers will not have to pay more, as the board intends to use the county school facility tax to repay the bonds.

“Having the facility all up to date puts us at the best air quality we can provide students,” Keefer said.

Several years ago, the board opted to put window air conditioning units in classrooms. Those units will be removed and the grade school’s 30-year-old heating system will also be replaced, Davis said.

Work is slated to be done this summer, if materials and equipment can be obtained in time.

The board also voted to give Superintendent Chad Wagner authority to accept and execute electricity and natural gas price agreements with Nania Energy for a term not to exceed 36 months when the timing is best.

The board also discussed the next round of bidding for bus service and directed Wagner to continue to seek options for gas-powered school buses, as well as the diesel models currently being leased.

In a previous meeting, the building committee also had discussion about possibly creating an outdoor classroom space.

The board also approved Option No. 2 for the 2022-23 school calendar after that option received the most votes (47.7 percent) from certified staff members. The first day of the 2022-23 school year is Aug. 16, 2022, with winter break from Dec. 22, 2022, to Jan. 2, 2023. Spring break will be April 5-10, 2023, graduation is set for May 21, 2023, at 1 p.m. and the tentative last day of school would be May 23, 2023.

In other action, the board approved:
• Hiring Traci Whitney as elementary administrative assistant for the rest of the 2021-22 school year at $15 per hour.
• Josh Begner, Grant Strom, Jeremy Anderson and Seth Hart as fifth and sixth grade volunteer basketball coaches pending certification.
• Hiring Haley Carter as learning loss paraprofessional for the rest of the school year at $13 per hour.
• The 2022-23 SEAPCO Hiring Survey.