District One approves major energy upgrade program

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During their meeting Tuesday, the Anderson School District One Board of Trustees heard updates on COVID, the building program, learning during the pandemic and acted on an energy management program that that will pay for upgrades and save the District more than $2 million.

Superintendent Robbie Binnicker told the Board that District One has had 36 positive cases of COVID-19 since the restart of school.
Between March and August, AD1 had 15 staff test positive. Since Aug. 17, six staff and 30 students have tested positive. “We think that is fantastic,” Binnicker said.
“We have six students out of school, out of 8,500 face to face,” Binnicker said. Going into the opening of school the administration was not sure how it would go, but Binnicker said they are “very pleased with what that looks like.”

Finance Director Travis Thomas reported on the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) fund. Thomas said Anderson County collected $2,489,000 in June. District One received $786,000 of which $157,000 went to property tax relief and $629,000 went to capital projects. The LOST fund currently has $6.1 million in it.
The building fund had $1.6 million in expenses in July and $4,885,000 in August. The building fund balance is $62.2 million.
Binnicker updated the Board on the building program. Palmetto and Wren Middle projects are in Phase 2 of 3 phases of construction and are going “very well,” he said.
Binnicker said with the Palmetto Middle being empty due to COVID, workers were able to get a lot more done than expected and Palmetto Middle construction is on schedule to be completed by the end of the school year. He said the district will see significant savings.
“We plan to move into the new building over spring break,” Binnicker said.
Binnicker explained that they were not able to do that at Wren Middle because the building housing the gym/cafeteria which will be torn down is being used by students this fall. When torn down, the newly constructed area will be a fine arts wing, he said.
Work at Powdersville Middle is almost finished and expected to be completed by mid October.
An eight room addition at Powdersville Elementary is completed.
A ten room addition and multi-purpose facility at Powdersville High School is expected to be completed by December.
Work at Cedar Grove Elementary is “well underway and on track to be completed by February,” Binnicker said.
The Board heard a presentation from Johnson Controls on an energy management program that could save the district more than $2 million which can be leveraged to pay for improvements on aging systems throughout the district.
Superintendent Binnicker said the district has budgeted $7 million for mechanical upgrades on energy, water conservation, electrical, HVAC and lighting. The upgrades will save $2 million of the $7 million and the rest will be financed and recouped in energy savings over a 20 year period. The weighted service life of the upgraded equipment is 29.3 years.
Justin Newbern of Johson Controls gave a process overview that included legal, financial, efficiency and infrastructure recommendations for the project which addresses major needs at four aging schools.
Upgrades will include interior and exterior LED lighting upgrades, water conservation upgrades, HVAC electrical control upgrades, fiberboard ductwork replacement, fire alarm replacement at Palmetto and Wren Elementary Schools and chiller plant upgrades at Palmetto and Wren High.
Newbern said they worked very closely with District One staff for about six months on infrastructure needs and how to make them more efficient. They looked at previous baseline utility costs and determined savings will be around $2 million and pay for upgrades in energy savings over a twenty year period.
Total implementation price for the project is $11,925,412.
Financing of $6,925,412 will be through TD Bank at 1.77 percent over ten years and funding of $5 million will be from the current building program fund.
The upgrades are expected to be completed in fourteen months.

Newbern said the district has a lot of old infrastructure including heatpumps, ductwork and wiring that is over 40 years old.
The HVAC improvements will improve indoor air quality. “The right systems will be more healthy and efficient and code compliant,” Newbern said.
The equipment acquisition and lease and financing presented gives District One options on how to pay for the project including use of the LOST funds.
The Board went into executive session to discuss the contract and upon returning to open session approved the project.