For the last few weeks, Unified School District 428 employees at the District Education Center have been a band of nomads. The center is undergoing an installation of new heating and air conditioning systems, forcing the personnel from one room to another while ceilings are torn out and new duct work installed.
“We moved staff into the board room and classroom and it seems to be working out pretty well,” USD 428 Business Manager Dan Brungardt said. None the less, office personnel can’t wait to get back to where they belong.
The new heating and air conditioning units are in place. Now, the ceilings from the main part of the building are removed for new duct work to be installed.
Separate units were first added to the board of education meeting room and the classroom area behind it. USD 428 Business Manager Dan Brungardt said those rooms have their own thermostats.
“We will be able to regulate those rooms independently” from the rest of the building, Brungardt said. “It will be much more energy efficient and comfortable.”
The next phase of the project was the front part of the education center, which required moving most of the staff to temporary offices made up of partitioned cubicals in the now-completed back two rooms.
The ceiling is being replaced throughout the Education Center because it was cheaper for the contractor than working around the ceiling when replacing new insulated ducts, Brungardt said. The lighting is being redesigned and the number of fixtures reduced to further lower the energy costs.
The front doors have temporarily been closed to foot traffic, but the office remains open. Anyone needing assistance should come to the doors on the south side of the building inside the fenced-in area.
Work was supposed to be completed by the time school resumed this week. But, it may be a while longer before it is done.
The district moved its offices into the building after it was remodeled in 1989. Prior to that, it had been an oil field warehouse.
“It wasn’t meant for this,” Brungardt said of the old heating and cooling system, which was in place when USD 428 took over the large, metal structure at 201 Patton Rd.
In the main part of the building, project contractor M&F Plumbing of Great Bend is replacing the old boiler/electric system. The new gas/electric unit is a roof-top model that will be mounted on the ground.
The work was in the district’s budget and came in at $114,900.
“The district has worked for many years to reduce its energy consumption through a well-designed energy-savings plan,” he said. The only way to reduce the high costs in such an antiquated system that was in such bad shape was to replace it.
The DEC was the only district building that was out of line with its energy use. The goal of USD 428 is to reduce energy costs at the center by one-third.
Overall, the district has reduced energy expenditures by more than a $1,000,000 in the past eight years through its energy program, he said. “The plan has helped the district remain fiscally sound.”
Prior to the Patton Road location, the district office was tucked into Jefferson Elementary School.