School board cool to AC in high school

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Air conditioning could push NHS project over budget

The Naugatuck Board of Education wants air condition to be included in the renovation project of Naugatuck High School, which could potentially push the project over its budget. –FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — Board of Education members who pushed for air conditioning throughout a renovated Naugatuck High School were dismayed Thursday to learn their request is up in the air.

“This is a lot of money,” board member Glenn Connan said, referring to the $81 million renovation project. “I find it hard to believe we can’t squeeze it in there.”

The construction company managing the project, O & G Industries of Torrington, will accept bids from heating, ventilation and air conditioning companies with and without the cost of air conditioning the whole school added in, Business Manager Wayne McAllister said. If the cost of installing air conditioning sends the project over budget, it could be ruled out.

The amount of the voter-approved expenditure to renovate the high school to new condition cannot be exceeded, McAllister pointed out.

Board members proposed eliminating other aspects of the project to make room in the budget for air conditioning if necessary.

“If something else needs to go to get the air conditioning in there, maybe we have to look at something going to get what we need,” Chair David Heller said.

Specific upgrades included in the project can still be removed, McAllister said. The building committee has not discussed what might be dropped, nor have they come up with an estimated cost of air conditioning, McAllister said.

The space between floors and ceilings has not been measured, and ceilings might need to be lowered to install the ducts, McAllister said.

A small portion of the school currently has air conditioning, and temperatures can become unbearable in the rest of the building at the end of the school year in June, board members said.

The educational specifications for the renovation project were initially drawn up without additional air conditioning, a fact board members quickly noticed, delaying approval of the plans until they said the whole school should be air conditioning.

The specifications, however, are not binding, officials have said.

Classes are sometimes canceled on very hot days because some schools, including the high school, are not fully air-conditioned, board members pointed out.

“We want to have air conditioning so our students are not sitting there sweating when they’re trying to learn,” Heller said.

McAllister said the building committee will include another priority item for the board — a backup generator so the school can be used as a shelter during power outages — in its bid requests.