Mount Nittany Middle School will get a $2.08 million heating, ventilation and air conditioning system that State College Area School District officials also expect will address mold issues that affected the school last summer.
The new HVAC system — with chillers, cooling tower and associated equipment — will replace the existing, 23-year-old system and is intended to last for another 20 to 25 years.
The SCASD board awarded the HVAC bids on Monday night to Myco Mechanical, Inc. for mechanical construction at $1,743,000, John Spearly Construction for general construction at $174,706 and Allied Mechanical and Electrical for electrical construction at $158,888.
“This project is the latest in a series of midsized projects, which are being phased at the school over a number of years. The goal of these interim renovations is to proactively extend the life of the building, while maintaining excellent building operations and avoiding failures of systems during the school year,” district administration said in a memo to the board. “These projects should defer the need for a complete capital renovation or replacement for the foreseeable future.”
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According to the memo, the bids place the project $317,094 over the $1.76 million projected budget. Original estimates for the project placed the cost at $494,000, but that cost nearly doubled to $845,000 after the district decided to change the chillers from water-cooled to air-cooled units and move them outside.
Citing the mold issues that “threatened the opening of the building in August,” the district also added a $914,500 dehumidification system to the project. The district spent over $400,000 eradicating the mold and dealing with the humidity last summer, the memo said.
In addition to Mount Nittany, Corl Street Elementary School’s exterior modular units and Radio Park Elementary School’s basement room had mold last summer.
Currently, the HVAC system at Mount Nittany uses “through-wall” unit ventilators. That system is also in place at Gray’s Woods, Easterly Parkway and Park Forest elementary schools.
“That type of a system offers little opportunity to dehumidify the air as it enters the building at each classroom and passes through a coil located directly in the classroom,” said the memo. “These direct vents will be permanently closed and fresh air will be dehumidified in rooftop units prior to being delivered to the classrooms.”
The district has preliminary plans to update the dehumidification systems at these elementary schools as they age.
Some of the Mount Nittany HVAC project will be funded through the Capital Reserve fund, which contains $59,868,018 for the 2019-2020 school year.