If you’re looking for major school undertakings on the fiscal year 2022 proposed capital projects list, there aren’t any.
The School Committee last week reviewed a short roster of routine capital projects for technology and preventive maintenance. The items are expected to be reviewed by the Capital Expenditure Committee on Wednesday.
After several years of school building expansions, next year is a breather. And the only major projects lurking in the future are multi-million-dollar boiler replacements in fiscal 2024 and 2025.
“It’s a predictable replacement schedule, an asset-based replacement model,” said Facilities Director Taissir Alani. “There are no new capital projects proposed.”
The Facilities Department, which services schools and town buildings, is proposing a replacement floor scrubbing machine for $32,878; flooring replacement where needed for $56,658; and the same amount for interior painting, as needed.
Anticipating the need for space modifications, Alani is budgeting $43,837 for 2022. The largest facilities proposal is $115,728 for retro-commissioning the ventilation at the middle school. This process will increase energy efficiency, improve ventilation and prolong the useful life of equipment, he told the School Committee.
The biggest educational equipment item is replacement of hundreds of individual devices, including Chromebooks, laptops and iPads, for a price of $473,700. More than 100 desks, miscellaneous furnishings and nine office copiers are also on the replacement schedule, priced at $93,656.
“We try to bring in all these goods in the simmer and get great prices from state contracts,” said Julie Kirrane, director of school finance. Devices are replaced on an expected life cycle, she said, noting that expiration estimated for teacher laptops and iPads have been extended.
She added that “all devices are evaluated before replacement; it’s not a blanket replacement. Asked about technology items that are leased, she said those costs are included in the operating budget.
Kirrane noted that of the 1,300 devices ordered in response to the onset of remote learning last spring, all but 173 arrived, navigating supply challenges.
The acquisitions are in line with a one-to-one model, pre-kindergarten through high school, Kirrane said. “The district technology plan is always being discussed and revised and updated so we know which devices will need to be replaced three and four years down the road. We believe we can manage those replacements without dramatically increasing the budget.”
School Committee member Brad Morris sked Alani if he anticipates improving ventilation in school buildings. The facilities director explained that, unlike hospitals, school buildings are designed to conform strictly to state codes, “which place limits on what you can do. They are designed to be good, healthy buildings.”
Superintendent of Schools Philip Conrad noted that he expects to see increasing electricity costs because of the use of more sophisticated filters and office ventilation units.
Alani also announced that the latest addition to John Glenn Middle School will be complete by Thanksgiving, despite some delays caused by the Covid-19 virus. He added that the LED lighting newly installed in the middle school and high school was 95 percent funded by a Green Communities state grant.
Mike Rosenberg can be reached at email@example.com, or 781-983-1763
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