Senior High will be closed all summer and full of work crews

2012-05-30T00:15:00Z 2012-05-30T22:40:12Z Senior High will be closed all summer and full of work crewsBy ROB ROGERS rrogers@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

It’s going to be a big summer for Senior High.

More than a third of the $12 million in federal bonds approved by voters two years ago will be spent this summer on a new roof, energy-efficient windows and a modern, energy-efficient heating and cooling system.

The district has roughly eight weeks to finish the work before students return to class on Aug. 13. As a result, the school will be completely closed during the summer, with staff operating out of the Highland Elementary School Annex a few blocks up the hill from the high school.

Work began last summer on the school’s heating and cooling system. This summer, Senior’s vintage boiler will be replaced. The school has operated with three boilers, including the antique original to the building, built in 1939.

“The comfort (level at the school) is going to be considerably different,” said Lew Anderson, SD2’s facilities director.

At times there can be a 10-degree difference from one side of a classroom to the other when the heats shimmers up in late summer or the cold pools during the winter, Anderson said.

Windows at the school are single pane now, which adds to the poor temperature control. The new windows will be double-paned and coated with a solar shield to better insulate the school and keep energy costs down.

“We should see some savings,” Anderson said.

Similar roofing and window replacement projects have been completed all across the district with the 2010 bond money. In all, the upgrades to roofs, windows and boilers will save the district roughly $94,000 a year in energy costs.

The $12 million in bond money has been a good deal for the district. Tax payers will only have to pay back $5.5 million of it. With the money, the district has taken on upgrade projects at 20 different schools.

Similarly, voters approved an additional $14 million in federal bonds earlier this month, $8.5 million of which will have to be paid back by taxpayers. That money will lead to more improvement projects at another dozen schools.

As big as the window and roof replacement projects at Senior will be, it’s the heating and cooling work that keeps Anderson up at night.

This phase will require the replacement of water pipes throughout the school and the removal of old heating units in each of the classrooms.

Crews also will lower the ceilings in the classrooms by a foot in order to house the upgrades.

Once the work starts, it can’t stop until it’s done. If it’s not done by Aug. 13, the school district will have to push back Senior’s start date. And that’s not an option, Anderson said.

“We have to have it done by the time school starts,” he said. “We’re really under the gun.”

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