In August, we learned that one of our two, oil-fired boilers was cracked and needed to be replaced. Our second boiler is the same age (about 20+ years old) and model as the boiler that is cracked. If the functional boiler ever broke down during a cold snap and the pipes froze and burst, the damage to the school - and cost to repair - could be immense. The school also serves as the Town's emergency shelter increasing our responsibility to have the building fully functional during extreme weather.
To replace the inoperable boiler with another oil-fired boiler could cost about $80,000 and that would not address the fact that the other boiler is around 20 years old and may need to be replaced soon. After many conversations, several discussions, and much research, the School Board voted to replace the two oil-fired boilers with a high efficiency propane system. The total cost of this project – including the installation of a propane tank farm behind the school – will be around $180,000. We will cover a portion of this cost this fiscal year (2018/19) and pay off the remaining costs next fiscal year (2019/20).
Today, Thursday, October 18, construction will begin on the site where we will be installing the four propane tanks for the new boilers. A sketch of the location of the propane tank site will be available on our website. The site is located behind the school on the right of the paved path as you go down the path towards the lower field. Later today we will begin removing trees from an approximately 50'x50' square area beside the path. There will be a fair amount of noise as the crew uses chainsaws, a chipper, and other equipment to remove trees and brush. The cleared area will then be leveled out and an approximately 45'x40' cement pad will be put in place that will be the location for the propane tanks. The propane tanks will be fenced in once construction is complete.
A temporary fence will be set up today running from the corner of the school (where the kindergarten classroom is located) down along the paved path. This fence will separate students from the worksite and vehicles going between the worksite and the Juniper St./ Elementary School Rd. parking lot. During recess, at least one staff member will be stationed near this fence to ensure that students don’t cross over to the work area.
We anticipate the work to replace the boilers beginning in early November and continuing into December. Our contractor, MB Mechanical, will first remove the broken boiler and replace it with a new, propane fired boiler. After the first propane boiler is connected and operational, MB Mechanical will then remove the still functioning oil-fired boiler and replace it with a second propane boiler. This will help ensure that we have heat for the school throughout this entire process. We anticipate heating cost savings of approximately 30% once we complete the switch to propane.
Thank you for your patience and assistance as we work to complete this project over the next few months. In the end, we will have two, new, high efficiency propane boilers that are reliable, meet our heating needs, and reduce our heating costs.
All the best,
Mike Felton, Superintendent