WELLS – When school reopens this fall, Wells junior/high students will be in temperature-controlled, well ventilated classrooms.
The first part of the project to upgrade the building’s HVAC was completed last summer, and the second part will be done this summer.
Placing this work as a top priority capital improvement project on pay-as-you-go funding took several years to accomplish. A teacher who has been with the school for 13 years said she has worked under nine administrators, and there was no follow-through on this request.
A meeting of concerned parents and the community was held in October 2019 to discuss the heating problems at the Wells High School. With a temperature of 51 degrees in one room on Oct. 28, parents organized this meeting to voice their concerns.
Another point of discussion was the importance of communication between affected members, students, parents, administration and the District. Principal Clayton Anderson said his office is always open to listening to concerns about the health and safety of children.
The school was built in 1952 and is still very usable, but upgrades are badly needed. Similar to any building, home or business, maintenance is required. Since 2016, requests had been made by the Wells school to the Elko County School District to fix completely or replace the old steam-boiler system with a more efficient system.
This request had been pushed back on the construction list and never addressed. After many costly and time-consuming band-aid repairs, Elko County School District administrators placed Wells High School – Mechanical Upgrade Phase I as top priority in the fall of 2019.
The bid by Ormaza Construction was $986,140. It included enlarging the building to accommodate the new boilers and cooling units with a pad outside for the chiller tower. The system will utilize recycled water that is heated or cooled and piped to the new registers that will be placed in the rafters above the classrooms. The original radiators in the classrooms will be removed.
Phase II of this Mechanical Upgrade was on the agenda of the Elko County School Board meeting on Feb. 9. The Board approved the bid submitted by US Mechanical for $5,218,500. This work will replace the two old boilers, install the AC and chiller tower, and place the new radiators.
The project was planned to be done in two phases to avoid having students around the construction and possibly without any heat.
The $6,204,640 project when completed this summer will ensure the classrooms will have consistent heat and with the added benefit of the AC will keep the rooms comfortable on warmer days. The classrooms at Well High will also have an upgrade feature of being well ventilated.
Cody Abbott, building superintendent at Wells Combined School, said the air in the classrooms will have a constant exchange of 50% outside air. He also noted that this construction will save him valuable time in not having to repair leaking pipes, and the more efficient boilers will save on cost for the school district.
This construction project also includes adding an ADA bathroom at Wells elementary school. Abbott said that the ADA requirement for bathrooms is that 50% have to be ADA-fitted. Presently at the school there are five bathrooms and only two meet ADA requirements. The work this summer will construct a sixth ADA elementary bathroom.