By DAVE GYMBURCH Staff writer
Room temperature issues that have plagued the newly renovated Ridge Mills Elementary School for over six months appear solved, say school district representatives.
Extreme temperature swings in a kindergarten class were halted through a series of adjusted control-settings monitored with the help of additional room sensors, a Board of Education committee was told Wednesday. The adjusted specifications can be applied at other rooms that experience problems, including two other schools that use the system, said Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds Paul Rabbia.
"We think we’ve got Ridge Mills taken care of," Rabbia said to the board’s buildings and grounds committee. He anticipates engineers will soon "write up a sequence of operations" for the control adjustments, and the district will take the instructions to "go around and test all units" in buildings where the system is installed; other sites include Bellamy and Denti elementary schools.
The Ridge Mills building had reopened last September after being closed a year for a $5.9 million renovation that included a new air-handling system among various upgrades. But temperature problems have been addressed at several board meetings since October; kindergarten teacher Jackie Favata told the board of uncomfortable temperatures ranging from extremely hot to extremely cold, and Rabbia has said many other rooms could be facing similar issues.
At a board committee meeting last month with architects and engineers for the system, officials decided to install four more sensors throughout Favata’s room in addition to a thermometer near the door, so they could get more data on the conditions. The sophisticated system mixes outdoor air with room air, including ongoing air-treatment adjustments to maintain a constant setting.
The district has "done more than just put sensors in," said Rabbia; he cited steps to "slow down the draw" so it is "not blowing so much air" and better balancing the flow, along with adjusting the baffles and defusers to improve "dispersal of air."
Favata is pleased with the results in her room, Superintendent Jeffrey P. Simons said. The solution steps can be used as a "template" for handling further rooms at Ridge Mills and other schools, said Rabbia.
Committee chair Louis Daniello, noting the complications with the new system, remarked that "with all the contracts" for building upgrades, "you still windows open in the winter...doors open" due to uncomfortable temperatures.