By CRISTINA JANNEY
Hays USD 489 may shift its focus away from replacement of the HVAC system at Hays High School to a replacement of the HVAC system at Roosevelt Elementary School.
After a water line break on Feb. 4 left the school without heat and required classes to be canceled for a day, the district's Building and Grounds Department began further evaluating the building's HVAC system.
The district was nearing a decision to hire an engineering firm to develop plans for replacement of the HVAC system at the high school.
However, Rusty Lindsay, buildings and grounds director, told the school board Monday night Roosevelt is more likely to have a "catastrophic failure."
Lindsay noted a HVAC failure would not be a danger to students or staff.
However, an HVAC failure at Roosevelt could shut down systems in the school for days or significantly longer and make the school unable to be used for its intended purpose — educating students, Lindsay said.
The high school's HVAC system is divided into sections. He said although there are more possibilities of HVAC failures at the high school, they are independent failures. The whole high school's HVAC system is unlikely to go down at once.
"There is about 40 to 60 feet of pipe at Roosevelt that needs to be replaced to patch the area that we are in right now, but there is hundreds of feet of pipe underneath there that is in the same condition," Lindsay said. "The likelihood of something happening in another area is fairly high."
Board member Craig Pallister noted the system at Roosevelt was also a chiller system and will affect the cooling during the warm months as well.
If the school board decides to move forward with the project at Roosevelt, engineering plans would be completed this summer and installation of the new system would likely not be started until next summer, Lindsay said.
In the meantime, Lindsay said he hoped the district could do some preliminary work on the project this summer and work with the engineer to patch the system to get the school through at least one more year.
Integrated Consulting Engineers of Wichita has already submitted a fee proposal for the engineering work with a cost of $98,500 for the engineering work on the HVAC system at HHS.
Board members asked several questions about the necessity to interview or request bids for the engineering work that would be shifted to Roosevelt.
The cost of replacing the system at Roosevelt is not yet known. However, Lindsay said the district does not have the funds to pay for either the Roosevelt or HHS HVAC replacements out of the current capital improvement budget.
Eventually, the board turned to a discussion of the necessity of bringing forward another bond attempt, although the consensus was the district needed to address the HVAC system at least one of the schools regardless of another bond attempt.
"What happens is that we get caught in the bond mode and trying to catch stuff in the bond and that piece of it and then we let stuff set," Lindsay said, "and then all of the sudden we do have a failure and then its back in the forefront and it seems like a lot more."
Board President Mike Walker said he appreciated the work Lindsay has done thus far on the HVAC issue.
"I agree that we can't stall out," he said. ... "I think if we need to change course because that is the best course to take, then I think we should do it. I think the course that you have laid out for us is a good path."
All the board members in attendance — Lance Bickel was absent — said they would be interested in serving on a bond committee.
Bickle was on the board during the last bond attempt and Walker was on the bond Vision Committee, but was elected after the last bond vote. The other five board members are all new since the the last bond election in 2017, which failed by a wide margin.
Board member Sophia Rose Young said, "I would like to get on the same page as everyone else and at least have everyone's thought on a bond because I do have a little anxiousness around having other people come in and not knowing what my fellow board members thoughts are with the bond.
"Right now, I don't know what they are thinking, but I have to work on a team with them and be in agreement."
The board will take a tour of Roosevelt during its next work session on March 9. The members will be able to get a better look at the infrastructure issues at the school at that time.