Among school districts, demand is high for increased funding to address needs such as lower student-teacher ratios, special student services, new classroom technology, and building improvements. Yet federal, state, and local sources provide fewer and fewer resources to address these demands. The real mission of providing a quality education can seem unreachable when faced with the reality of dwindling public funding.
Furthermore, no matter how efficiently schools are run, there is always pressure to be even more cost-effective. These factors are constantly under scrutiny by parents, taxpayers, community leaders, and state and federal government. Widefield Schools were facing these issues and looking for solutions.
Many of the district’s 18 buildings were in need of capital funds to make infrastructure improvements and building additions. “Funding for aging infrastructure and deferred maintenance has become increasingly tight,” remarks Dave Overlin, director of building and grounds. “We needed a program that could provide facility improvements without capital funding.”
Teamwork Saves The DayThe Trane Company (La Crosse, WI) had recently completed a large Integrated Comfort™ system installation at the local high school and met with the superintendent to introduce the PACT program only to discover they weren’t the first ones in the door.
Within a short amount of time, Trane presented a program that was both comprehensive and met the district’s schedule. “We were impressed with the team Trane had assembled. Their approach was much more comprehensive than others. We always felt a part of the team, giving us more control over the outcome. The level of detail delivered in the condensed time we had was amazing,” said Overlin.
The $2.6 million facility-wide project is being funded using $322,000 in annual savings resulting in building improvements. “The PACT program has impacted our district by improving the classroom comfort levels, especially in the fall. More learning can be attributed to the improvements made by PACT,” said Gene Cosby, Widefield Schools superintendent. The partnership formed through PACT is benefiting the students, community, and environment making up Widefield Schools.
The PACT program was customized to include as many deferred maintenance projects as possible using the available savings. The project balanced utility and operating cost savings with needed building upgrades. First, a Tracer Summit® building management system was installed throughout the district to provide better occupancy scheduling and lower utility consumption. A lighting retrofit was completed to improve light levels and reduce energy consumption throughout the district. Heating and cooling units in Martin Luther King and Janitell Schools were replaced to provide the schools with more reliable comfort and indoor air quality for students and faculty. A costly-to- maintain boiler at Wilson Elementary School was replaced to provide better efficiency, reliability, and lower maintenance cost.
Fast Track ProjectThe aggressive project schedule allowed only seven months for completion. Close communication with the district was critical to ensure classrooms were not disrupted and seasonal systems were available. “Trane did a great job getting the Martin Luther King project completed and all the lighting upgrades finished without any classroom distraction,” said Overlin. The remainder of the work was completed behind the scenes without disruption to the learning environments.
To ensure results are as anticipated, the PACT guarantee is administered through a performance management program. Service, monitoring, and training is provided to maintain the installed systems’ operating efficiencies. The risk management aspect of the PACT program ensures Widefield Schools of long-term project performance.
The students and staff at Widefield Schools are now learning and teaching in a more comfortable environment conducive to learning. The PACT program has given the district piece of mind that the project will perform as anticipated. This will allow the staff in the Widefield School District to focus on delivering quality education to the local community. ES