Belpre BOE approves loan application for heating

BELPRE – The Belpre City Schools District Board of Education on Monday unanimously approved to apply for a loan through Ohio House Bill 264, also known as the Ohio School Facilities Energy Conservation Program, to pay for changes to the high school’s heating system.

“We’re really stuck in a quandary because we can’t get supplies and don’t have a magic wand to make them and we don’t have the funds to do this project,” said board president Leonard Wiggins.

Board member Fred Meredith agreed, but also pointed out that the district does not have the funds to be wasting on the wornout heating system the high school has now.

“We don’t have the money to wait for them to break down again and pay someone another $4,000 or $5,000 – that we don’t have – to repair it,” Meredith said.

During the February board meeting, Superintendent Tony Dunn approached the board about the furnace problems the district faces in all school buildings, but said the high school’s system is the worst and needs something to be done soon.

The system is a converted coal furnace at the end of its life. It is constantly breaking down and parts are no longer being made for repairs. District maintenance officials had been manufacturing parts themselves, but that is no longer feasible, Dunn said.

Participation in the Ohio School Facilities Energy Conservation Program will allow the district to borrow the funds at a low interest rate and repay it using the energy savings to cover the payments over 15 years.

The project is estimated to cost $557,703 without interest and $722,865 with an estimated interest of 3.65 percent, according to Energy Optimizers, a company that specializes in cost-cutting energy savings for schools and commercial and industrial facilities out of Tipp City, Ohio.

The annual estimated savings will be $56,185 with monthly payments of $3,950 a month, or $47,400 annually, Dunn said.

“The state will not approve the loan if the estimated calculations of energy savings and payments do not work together,” Dunn said. “It is a big investment but given the state of our facilities and state funding for new facilities, I believe this is the best option we have to keep things going for another decade, 15 years.”

With the board’s approval on Monday, the district and Energy Optimizers will be able to get detailed engineering and submit papers to the state by April 26 and have approval and funds from the state in June for work to be started in July. This will allow the heating units to be installed and any retrofitting of the electrical system to allow the units to work properly to be done by the start of the next school year.

“The plan is to get everything done by the time school starts in August,” Dunn said.

The work will include up to 14 individual energy-efficient heating units for the building.

With the upgrades, the removal of the current system will give the district much-needed parts to repair the old heating units still used in the junior high and elementary buildings.

In other business, the board had expected to approve the sale of the former administration building and the property it is on, at 2014 Washington Blvd., but removed it from the agenda because an offer was not made.

“We thought we had an interested party, but as of this evening no formal offer has been made,” Dunn said.

The building and property were put on the market in late 2009 and in March 2012 the board approved to allow the structure to be demolished to make the land more enticing to buyers without a former school on it. The building remains in place because the district does not have funds to raze it.

The estimated value of the land and building is $175,000 and the land alone is worth $165,000.