Dearborn Public Schools are setting aside much of the COVID relief money to improve air handling in schools and hope to add or expand air conditioning in several buildings.
At the Education Council meeting on September 13, 2021, administrators approved two architectural contracts to plan the improvement of HVAC infrastructure in the district and to manage capacity.
These projects will include, but are not limited to, improving air quality in schools, adding air conditioning, upgrading electrical systems, improving windows and replacing boilers.
The district estimates that it will donate $ 3 million to Integrated Design Solutions over the next several years to help design HVAC solutions throughout the district.
It is estimated that another million dollars will be used by French and Associates to renovate two buildings at Henry Ford College, which are used for district programs including classrooms, offices and adult education.
Planning and renovations will be funded primarily with COVID relief funds. The money will come directly from ESSERS III and indirectly from money the district has been able to save by using previous COVID relief programs to cover some expenses, according to Thomas Wall, executive director of business services and operations.
Funding from ESSERS – the Emergency Relief Fund for Elementary and Secondary Schools – can only be spent on items in a dozen categories related to fighting the pandemic. Upgrading heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems is an eligible expense.
The district is still in the early stages of planning and has not yet defined which buildings or projects will be targeted for improvements.
âWe have a priority plan that we’ve come up with as a district, but we’re going to have to wait until the architects actually walk into the buildings,â Wall said. As the cost estimates come in, the district will have a better idea of ââthe work it can do.
The district has set aside approximately $ 40 million in ESSERS III funding for infrastructure by September 2023.
An assessment of the building in 2019 concluded that it would have cost more than $ 54 million at the time to install air conditioning in all 32 school buildings in the district. by voters.
Millions of dollars in other elements of the BRICS bond proposal of $ 240 million related to HVAC work and some of these could be included in future ESSER projects. Construction costs have increased dramatically over the past two years due to a shortage of employees, supplies and equipment in the construction industry.
Many school buildings in the district are old and depend on boilers and radiators for heating. This means that air ducts would have to be added to carry the air conditioning through the building. Most buildings would also need major upgrades to electrical systems to cope with the high consumption of air conditioning units.
The architects will help the district determine which system will work best in each school.
âWe have to make sure this is the right solution for us,â Wall said.
For example, even if the electrical system could handle it, adding individual air conditioning units to classrooms could result in much higher maintenance and repair costs.
Most of the HVAC work is expected to take place next summer, with the rest ending in summer 2023.
COVID-related funding from federal and state governments has been released in waves, with each program having different requirements as to how the money could be spent.
Dearborn Schools spent $ 26.2 million on the 2021 University Summer and Enrichment Program, which was used by more than 8,400 students. Most of these costs were also covered by COVID relief funding.
Millions of dollars in COVID money were also spent on other authorized spending last year, which in turn freed up budgeted funds allowing the district to invest an additional $ 17 million (a total of $ 24 million dollars) in building repair and maintenance. This is in addition to the $ 40 million in ESSERS III funding set aside for construction and maintenance projects over the next two years.