The Haverhill School Committee gave the go-ahead last Thursday to begin the process of installing and upgrading air conditioning units in several Haverhill school buildings.
Although fall weather is now helping to attenuate the problem, parents, teachers and students reported during the warmer weather, temperatures in classrooms on the second and third floors became almost unbearable. School Facilities Director Stephen D. Dorrance presented the Committee with installation and wiring estimates at Golden Hill, Silver Hill, Pentucket Lake and Bradford Elementary schools.
“The cost is about $59,000 a floor, a school, per third floor, for a total cost of $236,150.80, leaving us a per room cost of about $4,500,” he said.
Dorrance said adding air conditioning to the second floors of those building would, in essence, double that price. He also said the units he chose were industrial strength and should last for several years. He noted they are programmable, meaning they could be turned off when no one was in the rooms.
Regarding the John C. Tilton School, Dorrance told the Committee, the current electrical system has amperage limitations and must be upgraded before additional units may be introduced. He estimated the cost for that school at approximately $309,000.
Previously there was money budgeted for air conditioning mini-splits that turned out not to be practical. Committee Member Paul A. Magliocchetti asked Assistant Superintendent Michael J. Pfifferling if that money is still available.
“We do have some money set aside for building maintenance and repairs,” Pfifferling responded.
School Superintendent Margaret Marotta also reported that because not all staff positions have been filled this year, there is enough money left over to cover the expense.
With that, Magliocchetti made the motion and members unanimously approved spending the money to add air conditioning units to the third-floor classrooms of the so-called “cookie-cutter” schools, all of a similar state-suggested design built during the 1990s.