School Committee Approves HVAC Replacements at Four Haverhill Public Schools

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

Four Haverhill Elementary Schools are in line for upgrades to their time-worn heating and air conditioning systems.

The Haverhill School Committee voted Thursday to allocate money for updated equipment for three of those schools while school administrators vowed to find a source to pay for the remaining building.

Assistant School Superintendent Michael J. Pfifferling told the Committee there is $1.2 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act money available now, but $350,000 of that was already earmarked electrical upgrades at the John C. Tilton School. He added, Haverhill has also received a state Improving Ventilation and Air Quality grant of a little more than $1.7 million. He then outlined the proposed work schedule.

“Do the Tilton Elementary School, do the Silver Hill Elementary School with ARPA funds and then move to Golden Hill and then Pentucket Lake and finally Bradford,” he explained.

With an expected cost of about $850,000 per school, Pfifferling said there should be enough money to cover Tilton and three other schools.

Because all of the schools were built around the same time, in the 1990s, Haverhill Facilities Director Stephen D. Dorrance told the Committee it makes sense to do the upgrades for those building at the same time as well. He also explained which areas of each building will be affected by the new systems.

“Because they are all identical in their square footage, the mechanical setup in the buildings is identical. So, it would be the hallways, the gym, the cafeteria, central office, nurse’s office, library and all of the interior spaces without windows,” he said.

Dorrance said window mounted air conditioning units have already been placed in rooms with exterior windows. He added the new systems will all use state-of-the-art direct digital controls rather than the obsolete pneumatic controls now in place, making them significantly more reliable and environmentally friendly.

Dorrance noted that a relatively small portion of the roof on each school must be replaced to better support the new HVAC units. He estimated systems for the first three schools should be completed by September, 2024 with Bradford Elementary completed by September, 2025, assuming the additional $800,000 to $900,000 is in place by that time.

Committee members voted 6-0 to allow the project to proceed as described.

In a separate action, the Committee also voted 6-0 to pay airfare for Haverhill High School history teacher Ted Kempinski allowing him to take part in an educational conference in Poland regarding the Holocaust.

Kempinski said his attendance at the conference, “New Technologies in Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust,” supports a 2021 Massachusetts law requiring genocide education. The conference takes place June 27-29, at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland.

While the committee voted unanimously to grant the request, Committee member Scott W. Wood Jr. suggested a process be established to rank who would receive such assistance in the future if there are multiple requests.

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