It seemed unseasonably warm through much of May and still most of Senior High stayed cool and comfortable.
Except in the art and music wing.
Last summer, School District 2 finished a three-year, multi-phase renovation of Senior High’s heating and cooling systems that included new duct work, replacing the building’s 70-year-old boiler and installing all new, high efficiency double-pane windows.
But because the project was done in phases, the southeast corner of the school still is without the new cooling ducts and air conditioning system. And it gets a little warm there.
“We knew we wouldn’t have the money to finish it but we hoped it would give us a pretty good start,” said Lew Anderson, SD2’s bond project manager.
To keep moving on the project, SD2 is looking to go after a $1.5 million Quality Schools Grant from the Montana Department of Commerce.
The initial work on Senior High came from a series of federal bonds approved by voters in 2010. The federal bonds — worth $12 million — were given at a discount, meaning taxpayers only had to pay for about a third of the money.
At Senior High, $4 million of the grant money paid for a new roof, energy-efficient windows and to begin work on a modern, energy-efficient heating and cooling system.
Staff at the school talk about the difference in temperature within the classrooms that have had work done. It’s noticeably comfortable, they said.
However, in the rooms needing the update it still gets pretty hot — to the point of distraction, some teachers said, much like the Senior High of old.
Before the HVAC work, there was sometimes a 10-degree difference from one side of a classroom to the other when the heat shimmered up in late summer or the cold pooled down during the winter.
Work completed on the first phases covered the majority of the school’s classrooms. The areas left without the upgrades include the music rooms, the band room and the art room. The gym and cafeteria also need the HVAC update.
Anderson hopes there won’t be too many days of uncomfortably hot temperatures in the art and music wing. The school year should accommodate some of that, he said.
Last year, the SD2 board adjusted the school calendar so that classes started a week later in August, with the hope of keeping kids out of the classroom during the hottest parts of the month.
The weather this week, while warm, hasn’t been unbearable, Anderson said. It’s perfect weather for keeping buildings comfortable, he said.