Energy-saving project would improve schools


A project to improve energy use in local schools could be materializing.

McKinstry, an energy firm, will finalize a plan to correct a number of energy problems within the district.

School officials were quick to point out that they wanted a plan they could look at, and accept different elements of, before incurring any cost to the district.

The project would change or improve lighting, controls, and in some cases ventilation, within certain school buildings.

Part of the cost of the project would come from a grant from the Office of the Superintendent of Schools, and the remainder would come from non voter-approved debt available to the district.

Superintendent Dennis Carlson said the district would focus on buildings within the district that will remain if funds become available to build new schools.

“We are trying to focus on elements in the plan that directly impact children,” Carlson stated.

The Industrial Arts Building and the Lake Roosevelt High School gym would be on the list, since both are scheduled to be retained with some improvement if a building project advances.

In addition to grant money, which isn’t certain yet, there would be money spent from non-voter-approved debt as well as certain energy-savings incentives.

The state has set aside $20 million to accommodate special needs of school districts in the state.

Grand Coulee Dam School District will ask for about $600,000 of grant money coupled with some $880,000 of non-voter-approved debt that would that would be paid back through energy savings.

“We have a general lighting problem,” Carlson said. “The type of lighting we now use in most buildings will not be available for replacement. They just won’t make it anymore.”

All that lighting will have to be replaced and the school district will recover part of that cost in savings.

“We will probably go ahead with the middle school and make the improvements since the middle school will not be torn down,” Carlson said. He sees the Middle School building as a community/government agency-type building someday.

The administration building will get the lights, but nothing else.

The district plans to pick and choose the projects based on energy savings, whether the buildings will be torn down, and how much the pieces of the project impact children.

The total project estimated by McKinstry would cost from $2.6 million to $2.8 million. The district plans to trim the plan to about $1.6 million.

In addition, the school district would have a little over $200,000 to deal with two critical roof problems within the district.

The high school gym badly needs a new roof, as does one classroom wing. The gym roof will cost the district about $350,000 and the classroom wing roof another $80,000.

Some of that cost could come through grants, Carlson explained.

The debt the district carries on the cost of the project would be paid for out of the general operating budget. The combination of savings and monies received annually from Impact Aid building funds would account for a good share of the cost spread over 15 years, the district maintains.

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