Beating the elements: High school improvements to improve energy efficiency

Sunday Times Newspapers


LINCOLN PARK — The next phase of a window and door replacement project at Lincoln Park High School will begin this summer.


Lincoln Park Public Schools Board of Education members recently gave the go-ahead for the fourth phase of a five-phase plan to improve energy efficiency by replacing all of the high school’s windows and doors. Supt.


Randall Kite said the project, which is supported with money from a 1.5 mill sinking fund approved by voters in 2003, was planned in phases because the high school’s size made it too expensive to replace everything at once.
Early estimates put the overall project cost at $1.1 million. The upcoming fourth phase, to be completed by Butcher & Baecker Construction Co. of Rochester Hills, will feature replacement of windows and doors in the gymnasium and on the building’s science wing, as well as asbestos removal and installation of window coverings.


Phases one and two were combined, Kite said, and focused on classrooms in the front of the school, the cafeteria and auditorium and classes in its shop wing. Phase three, completed last year, targeted classrooms on an inner courtyard and along the consumer living (formerly home economics) wing. Next year’s final phase will involve classrooms on another interior courtyard, Kite said.


Officials had estimated the fourth phase of the project to cost $785,000, Kite said, but were pleased to award a winning bid of $470,400, plus an additional $70,000 for asbestos removal around windows. He believes the troubled economy may have played a role in the difference between the two figures.


“I hate to say it,” he said, “but maybe bad times have helped with the price.”


The total estimate for the high school work was $5 million, he said, but likely will come in around $4 million. While it’s too early to tell how much savings the district will realize from the improvements, Kite believes heating bills should go down about 25 percent.


Work at the high school will start after school lets out June 15 and end two weeks before school opens in the fall. Construction company workers already have been in this week to take measurements in preparation for ordering materials.


Officials gained voter approval for the sinking fund, Kite said, by transferring 1.5 mills for 10 years from a total of 5.5 mills previously levied in 1996. That freed up money to continue projects without increasing the tax levy.


“We’re trying to be a little creative about the way we do things,” he said. The 1.5 mills generate about $1.1 million per year in revenue.


Other projects supported by the fund include some roofing and electrical upgrades at an elementary school and major work on the high school swimming pool, including replacement of filters and motors at a cost of $500,000.


Kite said the improvements made possible by the sinking fund should enhance the district’s facilities significantly.


“We’re looking at a long-term energy savings and creating a better learning environment in the buildings for our students,” he said.