A facilities study commissioned by the Salem R-80 school board found needed systems improvements costing anywhere from around $300,000 to an estimated $5 million over the next five years.
The district plans to address the repair and replacement of what it can afford using capital projects funds it has set aside in recent years.
McKinstry, a design and construction firm, performed the $40,000 study at no charge to the district. R-80 has partnered with McKinstry on numerous projects, including renovations and new construction at the high school and middle school, and new bathrooms and heating and cooling systems at the SHS gym.
“That study was one of our first steps, to get a picture of where we’re currently at,” said R-80 Superintendent John McColloch. “The team that came in looked at three systems in each building: our mechanical systems, electrical and plumbing systems.”
McKinstry rated the systems on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the worst. The systems averaged out at 2.79, with some in serious need of repair or replacement.
Not all of the work can be done in five years, but some key issues can be addressed, McColloch said.
“Right now, the biggest issue is our HVAC systems, especially at the high school, middle school and upper elementary. They’re all getting close to 25 years of age. We can’t replace them all at once. That would be too much of an expense, so I think we’ll have to look at some type of rotation planning to replace those rooftop units.”
The study also found some problems at William Lynch Elementary, noting electrical issues and extensive water intrusion in the ceiling, plus certain spots in the floor and foundation walls, and cracks and degradation in structural supports that will have to be addressed. That building eventually needs to be replaced, it indicated.
“But we only have so much money, so right now we’re just focusing on what we can afford to take care of based upon our priorities,” McColloch said. He added that any work will be paid for out of Fund 4, set aside for capital projects.
“We’ve got about $1.3 million there right now and we’ll continue to add money to that throughout the year whenever it’s available,” he said.
The study evaluated 416 mechanical, electrical and plumbing assets in six buildings. The one with the highest negative score was the main distribution panel in the Vo Ag building electrical closet, McKinstry’s Isaac Fones told the school board at its June meeting. It will be a priority.
The majority of the capital assets replacements in the next five years are at the high school campus, the study shows, followed by the upper elementary, middle school and William Lynch in descending order. It recommended programming replacement of William Lynch at some point due to structural problems, safety hazards and the large cost of upgrading it to meet current codes.
Other recommended priorities for facility improvements include:
• Renovating the Vo Ag building should be a priority due to aging equipment and infrastructure that should be renewed to prepare for the next 20 years, at a cost of between $800,000 and $1.5 million.
• Aging HVAC equipment in Building B at the high school is in poor condition and should be programmed for replacement in the next one-three years at a cost estimated at $1-$2 million.
• Electrical service upgrades district-wide are needed to replace aging and obsolete electrical distribution and protection equipment at a cost estimated at $125,000 to $250,000.
• Exterior doors, windows and certain sealants and siding need significant renovation to prevent further deterioration of structures and to prevent continued energy loss.
McKinstry proposed a five-year capital replacement budget for 2020-2024 totaling $2.9 million. It called for expenditures of $424,700 in the first year, $51,474 the second year, $426,482 the third year, $105,885 the fourth year and $1.9 million in Year 5. Much of the budget is in response to deferred maintenance, the study states.
Building B at the high school accounts for the bulk of those costs over five years at over $1.5 million, but the upper elementary school has the most Year 1 needs at around $200,000, followed by the Vo Ag building at around $100,000 and Building B at the high school at slightly less than that, a graph in the assessment report shows.
“Once we have the priorities established we’ll start looking at funding mechanisms and how much we’ll have to set aside each year to fund these projects,” McColloch said. A capital improvements committee will set those priorities once school is back in session.
The district is still paying on bonds for building improvements and new construction. Payments are generated by the 43-cent bond tax levy passed by voters in 2013.
The bonds have since been refinanced and are not due to expire until the 2032-33 school year if minimum payments are made each year. Annual payments vary, but the district is scheduled to pay $286,000 in 2019-20, including $250,522 in principal.
Funding mechanisms for the improvements are something the committee will look at.
“The goal is to do as much as we can with what we currently have in the Capital Projects Fund, plus additional funds we can allocate over the next few years,” McColloch said.