NEW PARIS — National Trail Local School District board members and administrators discussed ongoing efforts to improve air quality and energy efficiency in school facilities during their regular monthly meeting Tuesday, July 28.
According to a written statement from Superintendent Bob Fischer, the district has partnered with Dayton-based Energy Optimizers USA to upgrade Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) units throughout the campus with bi-polar ionization devices intended to break down viruses and other contaminants and filter them from the air.
The project, which carries a total cost of $1.5 million, is being paid for using federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds intended to help lessen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“National Trail is taking proactive steps to ensure that school facilities are as safe as possible,” Fischer’s statement further reads.
The district is also making other improvements, including new LED lighting, new air conditioning units on the upper floors of the high school, asbestos removal, new ductwork and chilled water piping, and replacing boilers, chillers, and air handler units.
The benefits of these projects will be immediate, according to Fischer, and will come in the form of reduced energy bills and “an improved learning environment.”
LED lighting is also easier on the eyes, according to Fischer, and has been associated with improved behavior among students, increased motivation and higher test scores.
Facilities manager Brian Smith informed the board during July’s meeting that “better than half” of the work will be finished by the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, including replacing the last of the school’s original A/C units and over $100,000 worth of improvements to the school’s phone and intercom systems.
Many of these projects have been under discussion for over a decade, according to board president Greg McWhinney., an appraisal with which Smith readily agreed.
“It’s just taken 13, 14 years to do it all, taking little bites at the apple,” Smith said.
Fischer claimed that a $165,000 project to upgrade the high school elevator and “[turn the lecture hall] into a more functioning classroom” would be the next big facilities improvement projects on the district’s agenda, alongside paving the bus lot and building a new bus garage.
“The HVAC was the last of the big-ticket items,” Fischer said. “This building is now in good shape for the next 20 or 30 years. It’s almost like we have a brand-new building.”
National Trail Board of Education meetings take place the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the High School Media Center.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish