Air Handling Project in Gym Yields Good Results

CHESTER – The school board used the start of their October meeting to put in order three bids for the coming years and to find out how a major renovation project faired over the summer.

Last year, in response to air quality concerns and failing equipment, the school district decided that the air handlers over the gym had to be replaced. That project was completed over the summer and according to all involved, the work went smoothly and the results are phenomenal.
Dan Bisson, architect with Harriman, gave an overview of the process, which began in February with the completion of the contract documents and ended in September with the final bill from Eckhardt and Johnson, which performed the work.
Don Ennis, director of facilities. said he was pleased with the project. The company was good to work with, he said, but even better is the air quality in the gym. New controls maintain appropriate oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the air.
Teachers noted that Eckhardt and Johnson’s workers were pleasant, even doing impromptu welding lessons for the kids in summer school.
The project cost totaled $196,613.
Interim superintendent Jim Gaylord emphasized that the money for the project did not impact taxpayers and said it was an important project in the school’s long-term Capital Improvement Plan. Gaylord has been pushing in his years with the district to get all areas of the facilities in good shape.
Also at its Oct. 9 meeting, the school board awarded two bus contracts and the winter’s snow removal contract.
Regular education busing will stay with First Student, the only company to bid the work. While the first year of the service, in 2014/2015, shows a 7.6 percent increase over current spending, administration said it was reasonable. Gaylord pointed out that he’d like to have seen that first year increase lower, but noted that the first year of the current three-year contract with First Student was level funded.
The next two years show 2.5 percent increases. The first year’s cost totals $381,395, the second year totals $390,933 and the final year comes to $400,703.
As part of the award, First Student has agreed per school board request to outfit all buses with video cameras.
Special Education busing went to Provider for
a three-year total of $108,144. Two companies bid that contract, Provider coming in $31,388 below the bid of Seacoast Learning Collaborative.
Financial manager Annmarie Scribner noted that while Seacoast Learning Collaborative came in lower on the in-district busing, its costs were much higher for out-of-district busing.
Provider’s contract comes to $3 more a day than the district is currently paying. It’s a 180-day contract, with 18 summer days included.
The snow plowing contract will remain with Dillon Old Farm Nursery, the Chester-based company that handled the work last winter. The bids for the project ranged from $14,975 to $9,100, but two bids, including the low bid, did not follow specifications.
Dillon Old Farm Nursery bid $12,500 and was largely chosen because of a good working relationship evidenced last year. According to Ennis, the company had been accommodating both during and after the winter. Another positive was that the company is local.
In other business:
• Food service director Tyfany Carbone met with the board at its request for an update on how the kitchen is running. Carbone began by thanking the board for hiring her this past summer and noted that things were going well.
She said milk prices dropped another 10 cents; the pizza vendor has changed, bringing prices down and offering certain ingredients that the old vendor could not easily manage; salad consumption is way up; the kitchen is very clean, thanks to the kitchen employees; she is looking at starting a composting area; and with help from the agricultural commission, she is considering starting both a garden and a working arrangement with local farmers to bring Chester produce to the school.
The school board noted they had heard only good things about Carbone’s work in the kitchen and thanked her for her energy and innovation.

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