There were more questions than answers following Neligh-Oakdale’s board meeting Monday. The new sprinkler system that was supposed to ensure student occupancy in the basement by the start of school next week failed two pressure tests earlier in the day.
Board members were told the failure was probably due to an underground leak. But as for the timeline and costs associated with locating and repairing the leak, those are all unknown at this point.
Interim Superintendent Bill Kuester told board members that John Wieczorek, district manager for Ahern Fire Protection of Omaha, sent him an email at 5:15 p.m. Monday with what he called “disheartening news.” Kuester called Wieczorek during Monday's meeting, so all board members could publicly hear the update on the sprinkler system.
This was the first public update on the sprinkler system since the July board meeting. Kuester said members of the Building and Grounds Committee have met several times, including with the fire marshal, but those meetings were not open to the public.
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Wieczorek said both in an email and via the conference call that at minimum, the water line must pass a hydrostatic test of 200 psi for 2 hours. The results of the test performed was a loss of 12 psi after 90 minutes of testing.
This was the second straight meeting Kuester received unexpected news on sprinkler issues just hours before the board met. Last month, he was told occupancy was questionable due to documents having not been filed with the state fire marshal’s office.
But Kuester worked through those issues and set an Aug. 14 deadline to have sprinklers installed in the basement and old gym to ensure occupancy. Kuester said in trying to meet that deadline, he made several change orders to “speed this thing up."
“I wanted to get students in the first day of school as a goal, so I approved some additional funds for labor, overtime, for design and fabrication as well as the hydrostatic testing and flushing was approved here with Ahern for $3,875, but that didn’t quite work out as we planned,” Kuester said.
This was all done in anticipation of inspection Thursday by Deputy Fire Marshal Sean Lindgren, which Wieczorek said has been postponed due to the leak and failed test.
Student occupancy in the basement by the start of the school year, as Principal George Loofe pointed out to the board, is dependent on the fire system being installed and tested. Loofe asked the board for clarification on where he should put classrooms considering this latest development.
“I want clarification,” Loofe said. “If he (fire marshal) shuts the classrooms off until the water is fixed, that’s one thing. But if he shuts the classrooms and the old gym off, that’s a whole another thing I need to prepare for by Wednesday.”
Krista Schindler said, “That condition is not being met, so his question is, ‘Is that still applicable?’ ”
Loofe’s question was not answered during the meeting.
Wieczorek said Ahern does not perform underground work and is unable to self-perform these repairs. Kuester asked Ahern to offer suggestions of underground utility contractors to find and repair the leak. The first step, Wieczorek said, is to find out who installed the line. They are looking for the original plans.
In other discussion during the meeting:
A separation wall is being constructed in the 1930s building around the stairwell. Kuester said Ron Gilg, who serves on the Building and Grounds Committee, was hired to complete the job. They anticipate the wall being finished by the start of school.
HVAC vs. Hotel Units
Kuester said he met with a representative from TRANE for budgetary numbers on a new HVAC system since the boilers are from the 1950s. Kuester said tying into the present system would cost the district between $2 million and $2.5 million. A less expensive option than a central unit, he said, would be to put individual units similar to hotel heaters and air conditioning units in each classroom. That would cost about $1 million, he said.
Kuester said Mrs. Lingenfelter had budgeted $75,000 for a bus and $25,000 for a van for 2014-15. He reminded board members that several months ago they decided not to purchase a bus. He said the district will need a bus and asked to transfer the $100,000 into the depreciation fund with it earmarked for that purchase. The transfer was unanimously approved.
Laptops are ready for students in grades 7-12 thanks to the 1:1 initiative to put technology into the hands of students. Technology coordinator Robert Kreppel said he was grateful about the “cadillac” computers approved last December. He said students will get computers on the first or second day of school.
Administrators are considering adding an ag class via distance learning this fall from Elgin, but Kuester said “nothing is locked in at all.” No costs were shared on the fees involved with adding this class or a timeline on when a decision would be made on adding the class to the schedule. Loofe said if the class were to be offered this fall, students potentially could add the class until Aug. 21. The district offered an exploratory ag class last year in junior high, but there is no ag option this year. Kuester asked the curriculum committee to again discuss adding ag. Reinke referenced a previous survey of students that he felt was too broad. Schindler said the ultimate goal would be to offer an intro to ag class on a full-time basis. Chris Ford asked if that would require an additional faculty member and he was told it would.
The district added about $1.2 million of insurance this year. The premium is now $59,263, which Joe Knight said was an increase of about $6,000. They discussed adding flood insurance that would cover flooding from rain similar to the incident that flooded the school basement in October 2013. A $500,000 plan would cost $5,000. Knight said the coverage that was approved at Monday’s meeting has a $150,000 excess plan that kicks in if the $500,000 plan is purchased. Knight suggested improving drainage around the school since $5,000 per year would add up.