Aging Western Vance forcing board’s decision

Aug. 22, 2013 @ 07:33 PM

Superintendent Ronald Gregory wants to address the structural issues at Western Vance High School’s building, but he also wants to be realistic about what can be done to repair the aging structure.

“We have got to come to the realization that this is a 93-year-old building and I don’t know anything that is 93 years old that is working like its supposed to, especially when you’ve not done something all along, and we have not done anything,” Gregory said at the board of education’s building and grounds committee meeting Thursday morning.

At the committee meeting, Gregory and the other members agreed that repairing Western’s 93-year-old boiler and steam heating pipes is no longer an affordable option, given the deteriorated condition of the heating pipes.

Instead, the committee recommended Claiborne Woods, facilities director for the school system, explore the estimated costs of installing individual electrical heating and cooling units in classrooms to replace the boiler.

The committee also developed a potential contingency plan for the students at Western, in case the heating pipes fail during the school year.

Chairwoman Ruth Hartness stressed the need for a contingency plan.

“I think this is something that is critical and it is something we need to handle as soon as possible,” Hartness said.

The students would be placed in the mobile units located outside some of the school buildings.

Woods estimates it would cost between $7,500 to $8,000 to move those mobile units and prepare them for students.

JDA Engineers, P.A. in Cary performed an inspection of Western’s building and provided the committee with an engineer’s report that found the building needs a properly designed heating, ventilation and air conditioning system and insulation of windows, among other things.

Woods said the heating pipes, which transport steam from the boiler, are in such poor condition that they could not be used to heat the building today. Western does not have a central air system.

Hartness said she had concerns about the whole building, not just the heating system.

“I think we really need to look at this seriously,” Hartness said referring to the engineer’s report. “I did not realize until this report that the restrooms are outside. We need to consider all those things when we are talking about this building.”

The report states that the boys and girls toilets are outside the building, and it recommends the school construct two-story toilets to keep students from having to leave the building.

It also found all of the foundation vents in the building’s crawl space boarded up, which prevents cross ventilation.

Woods said there should be ventilation in the crawl space to prevent the mold that accumulates with moisture.

He said the patchwork on the heating pipes would start when the temperature falls.

 

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.