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Orwell voters approve school ventilation repair funding

ORWELL — At a special meeting on June 29, Orwell voters OK’d a plan for the school district to borrow $43,000 for repairs on the Orwell Village School building’s aging heating and ventilation system.
The loan in question was the sole article on Tuesday evening’s agenda. After some debate, town voters amended the proposed loan amount, which had been set in the meeting warning at $90,000. Due to a fund balance of approximately $37,000 left over from last year’s school budget, voters chose to take out a loan of $47,000 less than originally proposed. The loan will be repaid over five years.
Those at the meeting said almost 50 voters attended and the amended article was approved by a margin of 35-17, according to moderator Mike Audet.
The amended amount will bring the total amount of funds available for the repair to just upward of $80,000. This sum will fund “necessary repairs to the heating, ventilation and control system at the Orwell Village School,” according to the meeting warning. Specifically, it will fund repairs to the dampers and the control systems, which recently have not been functioning well, according to Addison Rutland Supervisory Union Superintendent Ron Ryan. These repairs follow a proposal in March to allocate $430,000 for an overhaul of the aging ventilation and boiler systems at the Orwell Village School and the Orwell Town Hall. The proposal was defeated at the town meeting in an Australian ballot vote.
Ryan said that until a the town can finance a full replacement of the system, repairs to the ventilation and control system will provide at least a temporary solution.
“It’s a measure to get ventilation and air into the school,” Ryan said. “The boilers could last another 10 years, or they could last another year.”
Ryan said that Vermont Heating and Ventilating, a Winooski company, has been approved for the bid, and pending a 30-day grace period, during which town residents can petition a revote, work should start during the first week of August and be nearly complete by the time the school year begins on Aug. 25.
“We’re trying to fix the system without replacing everything with new equipment,” said Ryan. “With the cost of everything and tax rates going up, this was the best proposal to get the job done and get the best air quality for the kids.”
Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at [email protected].

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