Schools to see air quality upgrade, new boilersThere will be cleaner, fresher air circulating throughout Minnehaha Elementary School in Two Harbors next year. Work to replace the steam boiler that had been in place since the school was built nearly 50 years ago also meant improvements in the air handling equipment was needed as well.
By: Forrest Johnson, Lake County News Chronicle
There will be cleaner, fresher air circulating throughout Minnehaha Elementary School in Two Harbors next year. Work to replace the steam boiler that had been in place since the school was built nearly 50 years ago also meant improvements in the air handling equipment was needed as well.
A new gas boiler was installed at the school last fall and has proven to be far more efficient, up to 20 percent more efficient. The district saw a 25 percent reduction in energy use compared to a year ago. Air handling equipment and ventilation had been upgraded in the parts of the building that had been renovated several years ago but there were still areas of the school where the air ventiltion system wasn’t up to current standards.
“With the new boiler, use went down, cost went down,” said Lake Superior School District superintendent Phil Minkkinen. “But that meant the air handling system had to improve. We needed better duct work in the open space areas that weren’t renovated 4-5 years ago.”
The project will get underway this spring and will be completed by the end of summer and should cost around $500,000.
And at the Kelley School Building in Silver Bay, a project to replace the aging boilers at that facility had been scheduled for 2014 but has been moved up to this spring and summer when water leaks were discovered and repaired. Air handling and ventilation upgrades will also be done in a portion of the building including the auditorium, cafeteria, gym and shops. The rest of the school was refitted with air handling equipment when the renovations were done at the school several years ago. That cost will also be around $500,000.
The two projects will fall under alternative facility financing, a bonding mechanism allowed to smaller schools by the legislature 6-7 years ago, according to Minkkinen. The $1 million levy, similar to a health and safety levy, was approved by the school board and will be spread out over 10 years. The $100,000 yearly cost of the levy will be spread across the entire $1.8 billion assessed property value of the district, meaning that most property owners shouldn’t see much of a blip on their tax radars.
“The projects badly needed to be done,” said Minkkinen. “Those boilers date back to when the schools were built. They’ve been living on borrowed time in both locations.”
Minkkinen said that the levy shouldn’t cause a big hit on taxpayer pocketbooks, estimating that a homeowner with a property valued at $100,000 would likely see an increase of about $10 per year over the ten-year period.