Temporary air conditioning units arrive on time

Roxanne McMurtry of Center Township spoke on behalf of many parents at Tuesday’s Schuylkill Valley School Board meeting when she asked the board for information on ongoing repairs to the elementary school’s heating and cooling system.

According to officials, the building should be kept cool thanks to the installation of numerous temporary air conditioners, which cost the board $57,000.

Although the district paid contractor EI Associates $8,000 to complete HVAC work at the elementary school before classes began Thursday, McMurtry, who was at the kindergarten event Monday night, said the the elementary school classrooms still don’t have air conditioning, although the cafeteria was cool.

She asked the board if there would be more fans in the classrooms by the end of the week.

At the July board meeting, a representative of EI Associates, Harrisburg, blamed the delay on supply chain issues and misunderstandings between the contractor and the district.

Resident Don Stark asked the board about the $8,000 bonus and whether the money would be returned to the county.

Board President David E. Moll said the board is discussing the matter, including possible legal ramifications.

“Some things happen in negotiations that aren’t always best done in public,” Moll said.

According to Casey Blankenbiller, the district’s director of building and grounds, the temporary air conditioners for the elementary school arrived Monday.

Also in July, the board was asked to consider purchasing 40 temporary air conditioners at a cost of about $57,000.

Blankenbiller said the air conditioning in the elementary school’s cafeteria and gym will be back on Thursday. There are also divisions in middle and high school. Some air conditioners require R22 refrigerant.

“R22 is now worth as much as an ounce of gold,” Blankenbiller said.

The county has 100 pounds of R22 in case air conditioners need to be repaired.

“We are prepared. We are ready to go,” said Blankenbiller. “The buildings, I won’t say, are perfect, but given what’s going on, I think we’re in pretty good shape.”

On the other hand, Superintendent Cathy L. Taschner said the district is reviewing the recent White House recommendations on clean air, hygiene and safety in schools.

The new guidelines could force the district to update its health and safety plan. Taschner said the specifics of the plan will be discussed at the next board meeting.

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