NEW PARIS — National Trail Local School District Board of Education members and administrators discussed a $1.5 million project intended to enhance air quality and reduce energy consumption in school facilities during their regular monthly meeting Tuesday, March 23.
Facilities Director Brian Smith updated the board on improvements to the school’s lighting and air conditioning systems slated to take place over the summer. Dayton-based Energy Optimizers, USA will replace the HVAC system on the second floor of the high school, according to Smith, and will also install an ionization system to combat viruses, mold and bacteria throughout the National Trail campus.
“We should have almost hospital-grade air once we install these,” Smith said.
The engineering firm will also replace chillers and boilers in the K-8 building and install flat-panel LED lighting in the K-8 building, media center, and on the second floor of the high school that should reduce the school’s electricity consumption by one-third, according to Smith.
Superintendent Bob Fischer stressed that the improvements will be paid for using a combination of capital improvement funds and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds provided by the federal government as part of its ongoing efforts to address the impact of COVID-19.
“I don’t want our taxpayers to think we’re just spending, spending, spending,” Fischer said. “These funds are there for two years, and we have to use them for specific purposes. We have to have this money spent by 2024, and we want to make sure we’re doing it in the manner that will most benefit our kids.”
According to Fischer, the funds can be used for coordination of COVID-19 response between school districts and public health departments; providing principals and other school administrators with the resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools; and activities to address the needs of low-income students, children with disabilities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth.
The funds can also be used for training on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases; purchasing sanitizing and cleaning supplies; planning for and coordinating during long-term school closures, including providing meals to eligible students and technology to facilitate online learning; and facility repairs and improvements that reduce the risk of virus transmission, including by improving indoor air quality in school facilities.
Approximately $265,000 of the $1.5 million needed for the project will come from the district’s capital improvement fund, according to Fischer, while the remainder will be paid for using ESSER funds.
“Had we not had this money, we’d still be setting capital funds aside and doing it later on down the line,” Fischer said.
The ESSER funds will also enable the district to pursue other projects “to benefit the building as a whole and make it a safer environment,” according to Fischer, including upgrades to the high school office, elevator, lecture hall and restrooms.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting:
Fischer informed the board that he had spoken with representatives from the Ohio Dept. of Transportation (ODOT) about placing signs and reducing speed limits near the intersections of U.S. 40, Eaton Gettysburg and Oxford Gettysburg Rd during its Jan. 2021 meeting.
The ODOT representatives claimed, according to Fischer, that such measures usually cannot be taken unless the main entrance to a school building faces onto the road in question
Fischer stated that he had recently spoken with State Representative Rodney Creech and Preble County Sheriff Mike Simpson about the issue, including pointing out other nearby schools, such as Dixie in New Lebanon, which have signs and reduced speed limits on roads adjacent to school facilities.
“They have a school zone that goes down to 20 miles an hour, but you have to turn down another road to go into any of their buildings,” Fischer said.
Fischer stressed that the safety of National Trail’s students and personnel is paramount.
“Anything to slow that down,” Fischer said of the traffic on U.S. 40. “At least to 35 mph, but if we can get 20 we’ll take it.”
National Trail Board of Education meetings take place the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Media Center.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish