All students at Bellwood know the feeling.
At the beginning and end of the school year, sitting in many classrooms can be almost unbearable because of the heat, unless, of course, you’re lucky and have most classes in the upstairs of the high school.
Most students; however, do not.
That miserable feeling that most students experience at the beginning and end of the summer months will soon be gone following the approval of a major project for B-A’s physical plant.
Two weeks ago, the Bellwoood-Antis School Board approved an HVAC project that will install air conditioning in the entire middle and high school.
Superintendent Dr. Tom McInroy said the project has been a long time coming. “We have been working on this for two years,” he said.
“We were lucky in that the market moved favorably, so we were able to get a bond,” said Dr. McInroy. “We could’ve paid for the whole thing out of pocket but it would’ve wiped out our savings.”
The total cost of the project is $3.12 million, and the district will need to borrow $1.5 million. The mechanical part of the project costs a little over $2.7 million, and the electrical part costs $350,000.
The project will be conducted in two phases, with phase one in the middle school starting this spring. The high school will be phase two, and construction will begin in the spring of 2021.
“It’s a huge project, and we don’t want to interfere with education,” said Dr. McInroy.
Until now the high school has only had air conditiong on the second floor and in computer labs. The middle school had it only in labs.
Teachers are without a doubt looking forward to the new changes for themselves and students.
“Having air conditioning in the high school will improve the environment for the students and for me. A more stable climate will benefit us; we will be more capable of focusing on schoolwork rather than how hot and uncomfortable we are,” said high school English teacher Mrs. Carol Bartlett.
Teachers feel the new system will alleviate the stress of classrooms that neared triple-digit temperatures on some days in the fall and spring.
“Any student who has had an afternoon class with me can attest to how uncomfortable my room is in the fall and spring,” said Mrs. Alyssa Cunningham. “Temperature and air quality are important aspects of a positive and healthy learning environment.”
Middle school English teacher Mrs. Susan Nycum is not only looking forward to cooler temperatures.
“It will be nice to pass papers back to students that isn’t wilting.”
Dr. McInroy sees the upgrade providing educational benefits.
“The hope is that when you walk in, everything is a pleasant temperature,” said Dr. McInroy. “Students are more apt to learn in cooler, more comfortable conditions.”
Middle school teacher Mr. Travis Martin is still looking forward to a change he felt was absolutely necessary. “I am happy the students can be in a more ‘learning-friendly’ environment, though I am skeptical as to whether or not essential school modifications should be celebrated,” he said.