Upgrades coming to Brownstown Central High School


Heating, ventilation and air conditioning improvements and electrical upgrades are needed at 52-year-old Brownstown Central High School, school officials report.

There also are safety concerns at the football stadium, track and tennis courts and in the main gymnasium.

The Brownstown Central Community School Corp. school board tried to address these issues and others in 2012-13, but taxpayers weren’t favorable of the $24 million price tag.

So since then, school officials have worked to break the needs down and address them a little at a time.

Damian Maggos, senior vice president of George K. Baum and Company in Indianapolis, determined what could be done to address the needs at the high school without raising property taxes.

The result was making HVAC improvements and electrical upgrades and correcting the athletics safety concerns, which come at a cost of $7.5 million.

No cuts were made to prevent property taxes from going up. The corporation is just taking advantage of debt falling off to make improvements, said Jade Peters, the corporation’s business manager.

In 2025, debt from work done at the middle and elementary schools in 2010 and at the high school in 2014 will be paid off. The corporation will have more than $300,000 come from the debt service fund from 2018 to 2024. It will jump to nearly $650,000 in 2025, and then remain at $835,000 from 2026 to 2036.

During that time, the debt service rate will not go above 30 cents.

After a presentation of the project and a public hearing, the school board approved the project, preliminary determination and reimbursement resolutions.

The HVAC work will begin in the spring of 2017, while the athletic safety upgrades will begin next summer, and the project will be substantially completed by the fall of 2017.

EMCOR Construction Services of Indianapolis is in charge of the project. In March, the corporation awarded a guaranteed energy savings contract to the firm.

A guaranteed energy savings contract is an agreement between a qualified provider and a building owner to reduce the energy and operating costs of a building or a group of buildings by a specified amount. Indiana Code allows these contracts for schools, libraries, municipal water or wastewater utilities operated by a political subdivision and other governing bodies.

EMCOR will do 85 percent of the work, while the remaining 15 percent will be done by subcontractors. The corporation will be allowed to choose local contractors to do some of that work.

The contract is the design/build model. Superintendent Greg Walker said that was chosen because of issues in recent years with build/spec contracts, where specifications are bid out and a project is awarded to the lowest bidder.

“We’ve had a lot of issues with our last project that we did in 2014,” Walker said. “There are still items that have not been done and completed. We’ve had problems with things that were actually done and we’ve had to have them come back and redo.”

With the design/build process, a company designs and builds a project, and the customer pays the exact cost of labor and material.

“It’s open-book billing. We’ve got to pay the actual price of whatever the labor and material is,” Walker said. “The board will negotiate with EMCOR a percent markup, which would be their profit.”

Walker and Peters visited other schools that have used EMCOR for projects and were happy with what they heard and saw. The Fortune 500 company has performed construction services on more than 100 guaranteed energy savings contract projects since 1995. Several of those projects were at K to Grade 12 Indiana public schools.

HVAC improvements

In the past couple of years, Brownstown school officials have been able to make security and technology upgrades and interior space and exterior improvements. A new HVAC system at the high school was next on the list because most of the equipment is from 1964, when the school was built.The project will include a new boiler.

“We’ll replace that one large boiler with three high-efficient boilers that are going to be energy savings cost and do a much better job for us,” Walker said.

Heating and air conditioning units in classrooms, which currently sit along a wall or are attached to the ceiling, will be replaced with vertical units.

“These things are extremely quiet,” Walker said. “The schools that we went to, one of them, we had to put a piece of paper on the vent just to make sure it was running, it was that quiet in the classroom.”

The 12 outdoor air conditioning units on the ground and roof will be replaced by two chillers, which will pipe cold air into the high school and run to the classroom units.

The new HVAC system also will allow each teacher to control the temperature in his or her classroom. Currently, four classrooms are controlled by one thermostat.

Science teacher Maria Conklin said her classroom varies from really cold in the morning to very warm in the afternoon. She experiences humidity issues, damp papers in the morning and too much moisture in the air to do certain labs.

“I think it’s a really important project that we undertake, and I think it will help all teachers, help students and then I think help the community as a whole,” she said. “I think it’s a good idea to go forward with this project.”

Seniors Richayla Huff and Makenzie Bennett also spoke in favor of the HVAC improvements.

Huff said four classrooms being controlled by one thermostat results in a cold room where students are more worried about getting a jacket than paying attention to lessons. Bennett said that makes it hard for students to concentrate on what they should be doing, and teachers have to take time away from lectures to adjust the temperature.

“It just interferes with class time,” Bennett said.

Randy Ude, who has been the corporation’s facilities director since early August, said most of his time is spent working on the high school air conditioning. That includes fans, motors and pipes breaking, Freon leaking and old thermostats not working.

“We have to tell teachers to turn their units off at night to keep them from freezing up,” Ude said. “It’s pretty much a mess, and it desperately needs to be replaced.”

Trane has been servicing the corporation’s equipment for many years. Toby Taylor, an area service manager with Trane, said he performed maintenance on that equipment for about 25 years.

“I know it pretty well, and it’s all past due. It’s past its life expectancy,” Taylor said. “There are pieces on there, the air handlers and stuff, that we’ve pieced together just trying to get you to the point where you can replace it like you are now. It’s ready.”

Several of the electronic components are 1964 equipment, Walker said.

An emergency allocation was approved in August to allow for repairs to the library’s air handler. Some parts needed are no longer available and many times have to be made, Walker said.

He looked at expenses for repair and maintenance at the high school in the past five years. That remained at about $5,000 from 2012 to 2014 before jumping to nearly $20,000 in 2015. So far this year, that number is approaching $35,000.

Athletics safety

Blevins Memorial Stadium, which was built in 1964 when football was reinstated, will be replaced. It is not handicap-accessible, and there isn’t a railing up the middle of the stairs. Rubber mats were placed on each step a few years ago after a person slipped and fell during a football game.On the back of the stadium, the concrete blocks above a garage door are deteriorating. Then underneath the stadium, cracks in the concrete walls allow water to get into the area. In one place, water gets into an electrical box.

Brad Isaacs of Brownstown also asked for the rope placed around the track during football games to be removed after it caused an accident that resulted in a family member having to undergo hip surgery. Taking that rope down would come at no cost to the school, Isaacs said.

The track will be repaved and receive a new surface and striping. Walker said the track was totally redone in the early 1990s, and some repairs have been made over the years to fix cracks and rough spots.

“They are supposed to be done every eight years, so we have gotten our money’s worth,” Walker said of the rubber track surface.

Cracks also can be found on the tennis courts, so that surface will be replaced, painted and striped for the first time since 2003.

Mike Warren of Brownstown asked if concrete would be more beneficial than blacktop. Kevin Livingston, construction manager for EMCOR, said a different asphalt mix is used for tennis courts to make them smooth and favorable for tennis use.

And in the main gymnasium, which was built in 1964, the seating will be replaced. In recent years, wooden boards have been replaced and brackets have been rewelded. Last year during a basketball game, one of the brackets broke, causing a woman to fall.

By the numbers

A $7.5 million construction project has been approved for Brownstown Central High School in 2017.

Work;Cost;Percentage of project

HVAC improvements;$5,728,835;76.4

Athletic safety concerns;$1,062,460;14.2

Electrical upgrades;$420,244;5.6

Soft costs;$288,461;3.8

Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.