VUES looks to replace old boiler

VERGENNES — Vergennes Union Elementary School officials are looking at spending up to $200,000 this summer to replace one of the school’s boilers and build a new roof on one section of the East Street building.
Addison Northwest Supervisory Union business manager Kathy Cannon said VUES already has $125,000 set aside in a capital fund line item, including $15,000 in its recently approved budget, to help pay for the work.
Cannon said estimates for replacing the boiler and the roofing — for a now flat-roofed area at the front left end of the school’s main wing — each are running at $90,000 to $100,000.
Residents of Vergennes, Panton and Waltham would have to give their OK at some point if school officials were to borrow the extra money to do the work this summer, and a special election is possible. 
“We would have to go to the voters for that $60,000 or so,” Cannon said.
If the school were to borrow $60,000 over five years, Cannon said the loan would add five annual payments of about $17,600 to the VUES budget.
The school is now paying about $32,000 a year to fund a recent $220,000 project to fix roofing and insulation on the first-grade wing, next to the area that officials said now needs work, she said.
The section that officials want to re-roof does not leak yet, but Cannon said VUES maintenance workers and outside experts believe it is only a matter of time because water is “ponding” on the roof surface after rainstorms. The work proposed would create a slight tilt so that water would drain.
“There’s no leak yet, but we’re concerned it might happen,” she said.
The boiler officials want to replace is cast iron and was installed in 1988. It serves the front of the school, while another boiler of a similar vintage heats the library, gymnasium and the sixth-grade wing to the rear. That second boiler has been trouble-free, but the front boiler needed major work this past winter as well as other minor repairs, Cannon said.
“The feeling is that it’s at the end of its life,” she said.
Plans call not only for a new boiler, but also for that new boiler to be linked to the other boiler, something that is not the case now. That change would allow either boiler to provide at least some heat to the entire school if the other failed, Cannon said.
Reporter Andy Kirkaldy is at [email protected].

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