February 28, 2020

WB-RC Board of Education approves bid for HVAC upgrades

School board meetings rescheduled for remainder of 2020


WEST BRANCH — A bid for HVAC improvements and replacements to Surline Elementary School and Surline Middle School was approved by the West Branch-Rose City School Board during its Monday, Jan. 20 meeting. 

The bid was awarded to Gateway Refrigeration for $924,000 with an additional $92,400 in contingency. 

“$1.1 million is where we thought we would be,” Superintendent Phil Mikulski said during the meeting. “Right off the bat, we know there are going to be some savings there.” 

Board President Scott Williams said the project includes 26 classroom heating ventilation units and digital controls in the two schools, as well as two units in the Surline Middle School gym and another unit which will control temperatures in the Surline Elementary gyms. According to Mikulski, the project also includes a rooftop unit for the main office in Surline Elementary.

“These are replacing the oldest units in the buildings,” Williams said. “Some of those classrooms have had heating problems for years.” 

Mikulski said new controls will also be installed at the two schools for heating units not included in the project so the temperature in every room will be on the same system, which will provide the opportunity for energy savings in the future. He added that, in addition to heating, the new units will maintain the flow of fresh air into the schools.  

Mikulski told the board the money held in contingency will ensure they have accounted for any unforeseen circumstances. He said use of that money will have to be signed off on by himself and Facilities, Operations and Maintenance Director Rodney Good. 

“There will be asbestos abatement — something will come along,” Mikulski said. “The biggest thing is the timeline, because we’re going to be disrupting classrooms.” 

Regarding the timeline, Mikulski said the project will begin as soon as the school year ends and may push into the 2020-2021 school year, but will be finished before the units need to be utilized. An expected start date was not specified at the meeting.

Mikulski said the contractor provides service to the school district.

“Gateway Refrigeration provides us service probably once a week if not more for all of our heating and cooling,” Mikulski said. “It’s a company we work with all the time. We did a very thorough postbid interview with our architect on Thursday, and we are very confident they are going to do a good job.”

The school board also approved a meeting schedule change for the remainder of the school year, as well as voted on appointed positions. The meetings will continue to be held on the third Monday of the month, but will be held at 6 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. It was stated during the meeting the board intends to carry that schedule into next year if it works out well.  

Scott Williams retained his position as board president, and Curt Schaiberger was reappointed as vice president. Trustee Heather Kearns also nominated Scott Kartes for vice president, but he declined the nomination so he and Schaiberger could maintain their positions on the board. Kartes was reappointed as treasurer and Phil Stevens was reappointed as secretary. 

A presentation was given by Shawn Petri, superintendent of the Crawford, Oscoda, Ogemaw, Roscommon Intermediate School District, regarding ballot proposals which, if approved, would override reductions to the COOR operating and special education millages from 0.253 mills to 0.3 and 0.6329 mills to 0.75 mills respectively which were made per the Headlee Act. 

The board also approved retaining attorneys for 2020. Thrun Law Firm, P.C. of Lansing was approved with a retainer of $2,400. Williams said Thrun handles issues such as ballot language and millage proposals for the school district. Clark Hill PLC was also approved without a retainer fee for employee and miscellaneous matters.

Also approved by the board was the 2020 sex education advisory board, consisting of 13 members including staff, parents, students, health care professionals and clergy members. 

Science teacher Chris Powley and students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics program also gave a presentation regarding ongoing STEM projects in the school, which Powley said he hopes to expand in the future.

“It’s continually growing,” Powley told board members. “Last year we had a STEM 1 class. I had about 75 students. We have done everything from ROVs, which are remotely operated vehicles … to rec robots to GIS. We’ve incorporated STEM 2 this year. I have 14 students in that, so I have close to one hundred students in the whole program. In there, we do 3D printing, remote sensing, roboting coding, fly drones for GIS and a bunch of other stuff. We’re hoping to incorporate a STEM 3 independent study next year. That will be presented to you in the next couple months.” 

The board accompanied Powley and several STEM students to the pool, where they did a demonstration of three underwater ROVs, one of which was commercial and the other two were student designed and built. Board members and other meeting attendees had the opportunity to pilot the ROVs. The presentation was then moved to the STEM classroom, where Powley and students discussed other projects with attendees, including a student-created app utilizing geographic information system mapping software as well as 3D-printed projects. 

STEM students also presented the board with new nameplates for School Board Appreciation Month, which included 3D-printed falcons painted by students in the art program. The school board also received thank-you cards and other various gifts from students throughout the school district.


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