Addison Northwest voters OK $7.6M school bond

VERGENNES — Addison Northwest School District residents on Tuesday showed solid support for a $7.63 million bond to energy-efficiency, security, safety and kitchen improvements to the four district schools, with most of the spending devoted to Vergennes Union High School.
The final tally was 987-515, or 65.7 to 34.3 percent. Residents in five ANWSD communities supported the proposal.
ANWSD Board Chairwoman Sue Rakowski said board members and administrators were pleased to see such strong backing for the proposed work.
“We are grateful for the substantial community support of our bond, which will fund safety and security upgrades for all four of the district schools and much-needed efficiency improvements to our heating and ventilation systems,” Rakowski said in an email to the Independent.
ANWSD officials said they expect the work, including substantial upgrades to the Vergennes Union High School and elementary school heating and ventilation systems and a solar array on the VUHS roof, to be completed this summer.
ANWSD board members had repeatedly said in recent months that the upgrades are critical — the VUHS heating and ventilation system is described as “in failure” by a consultant’s report, for example — and that if residents backed the bond their taxes would not rise.
In calling the bond “revenue neutral,” officials cited a guarantee by project contractor, Energy Systems Inc. of New Hampshire, of at least $212,000 a year in energy savings, plus the upcoming expiration of the 2001 bond that paid to expand and renovate VUHS.
Plans to pay for this bond call for two years of interest-only payments of a little less than $200,000 that the projected energy savings will offset. After two years ANWSD will make annual payments of about  $600,000 that will roughly equal the combined total of the expiring payments on the 20-year-old VUHS bond and the energy savings.
The proposal calls for about $4.8 million to go toward VUHS, $1.96 million toward Vergennes Union Elementary School, $565,000 to Ferrisburgh Central School, and $89,000 to Addison Central School.
All four will get upgrades to heating controls, LED lighting, and new security measures. Enhanced security will include alarms that would sound if doors were propped open for more than two minutes, card-access entrances, and security cameras on driveways, main hallways and other critical areas.
The single biggest ticket line item overall is $2.97 million for new boilers, heat pumps and a rebuilt ventilations system for VUHS. Energy Systems concluded 40 percent of the VUHS ventilation system does not work, that problem being on top of a failing boiler.
Related expenses include replacing three aging rooftop ventilation units with new heat pumps that can supply either warm or cool air to the VUHS building, with a price tag of $187,650.
Controls for the VUHS heating and ventilation (HVAC) system — the current controls barely function, per Energy Systems — will cost $342,000.
Included in the proposal is the $550,000 solar array to be placed on the newer sections of VUHS roofing. Energy Systems projects the array through net-metering will save ANWSD $334,000 per year.
Other items at VUHS include security ($265,200), lighting (a $293,000 item projected to save $22,000 per year), and insulation ($50,540 and projected to save $4,000 annually).
VUES and Ferrisburgh Central share a number of similar proposed upgrades, including gym ventilation systems ($243,750 at VUHS and $226,100 at FCS), improved kitchen ventilation (some items are not currently up to code, according to officials, and a state fire marshal identified fire hazards in each kitchen), electrical and controls upgrades, walk-in cooler controls, and the lighting and security improvements.
VUES is also in line for a new boiler and hot water heater, plus modified piping ($358,410); air cooling in offices and year-round classrooms ($105,336); replacement of 1970 vents with energy recovery units; and a sprinkler system ($334,800).
The work at Addison Central will include a controls upgrade, LED lighting, and security improvements.
Details on the bond and were still available as of Wednesday at anwsd.org. Posts include a FAQ page, a school-by-school breakdown of the project elements and their cost, and a 12-minute video.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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