Officials wanted to replace two 58-year-old boilers at Milton High School but couldn’t fit the cost into the 2019 referendum.
But new boilers are now a part of the ongoing high school expansion project, which will mean better air for staff and students, thanks in part to federal COVID-19 relief funding for schools.
The school board on Monday approved using part of Milton’s allotment from the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, known as ESSER III, for the work, not to exceed $560,000.
ESSER III would contribute $424,000 to the boiler project. The rest would come from contingency funding from the referendum, money the board approved last fall to replace circulating pumps.
The pumps will become a part of the boiler work.
If all goes as planned, the new boilers and pumps should be ready to go by the time school starts in the fall, said Stephen Schantz, director of buildings and grounds.
Milton High School has always passed air-quality tests and provides the required air exchanges, Schantz said, but using the outdated boilers to heat the newly constructed areas would have resulted in cold, damp-feeling air during air-conditioning months.
The new boilers come with high-efficiency air handlers that remove humidity from the air, solving that problem, Schantz said.
Project engineer Randy Sikkema of Fredericksen Engineering wrote in a memo that the old boilers had to be shut down in warmer months, so heat could not be provided to remove humidity, resulting in closing of air terminals to prevent overcooling.
That would mean loss of “proper air flow” to the rooms and loss of control over humidity, Sikkema wrote.
The new boilers will allow flushing of school rooms with a minimum six air changes per hour, improving air quality and comfort, Sikkema wrote.
In addition, removing the humidity helps reduce the spread of indoor allergens such as mold, mildew and dust mites by removing excess moisture in the air.
“The new boilers will provide a system that will help to drastically improve IAQ (Indoor Air Quality),” Sikkema wrote.
Schantz told the board that incorporating the boiler work into the referendum project would save money because the existing design and construction team would go to work on it.
Replacing the boilers later would have required a new team to start from scratch, not to mention inflationary costs.