Haverhill Goes Back to the Drawing Board on Adding Air Conditioning in Certain Schools

Tilton Elementary School (Jay Saulnier file photograph for WHAV News.)

The status of air conditioning in Haverhill schools remains a hot topic with no immediate relief in sight.

The Haverhill School Committee asked last week why the John C. Tilton, Silver Hill, Golden Hill, Bradford and Pentucket Lake Schools are still without air conditioning. Facilities Director Stephen D. Dorrance previously said he hoped to have cooling in all those buildings before the start of the school year by using a system of splits. However, he said Thursday, that didn’t work as planned.

“So, we started to look at all of the alternatives and we found that there were some obstacles with the splits including codes that we must comply with. The most onerous of those codes is that we have to bring in significant amounts of outside air. A split doesn’t accomplish that,” he said.

Dorrance said he continues to work with engineers, looking at other options. However, the best option probably would cost millions of dollars per school. As an alternative, Dorrance suggested, the city could go with window mounted units in each of the classroom on the second and third floors, an alternative embraced by Mayor James J. Fiorentini.

“It’s not a few weeks of the year. It’s a few days of the year. It’s not worth millions of dollars per school. Put in some units in the windows and let’s be done with it. It’s not a perfect solution, but let’s get it done,” the mayor said.

Dorrance also told the Committee there is approximately $200,000, originally allocated for the splits, that would likely cover the cost of adding window units to each school classroom. In addition, Assistant School Superintendent Michael J. Pfifferling told the Committee there was more money originally designated for rooftop A/C units. He was unsure of the exact amount, however, and said he would bring that figure to the next meeting.

As a result, the Committee voted to hold off on making any immediate purchases, instead authorizing Dorrance to get estimates for the units and any electrical work that would be required.

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