Kramer, who spoke at the workshop meeting, was invited to return tonight, March 18 to give a formal presentation on "performance contracting," also known as the Guaranteed Energy Savings Program, which allows districts to make energy-savings upgrades to facilities, such as the heating system, building controls and electric.
In February, the board voted against holding a public hearing to discuss closing the junior high .
Facilities director Gerald Kronstain said the district is three months behind in getting the repair project off the ground. If the intention is to move forward and do the work, he said the project won’t be completed this summer.
Kramer said performance tracking would offer an alternative to traditional construction with several pay-back options and a financing period of up to 20 years.
“Performance contracting would allow you the flexibility to do the amount of work you feel is appropriate and fits your financial constraints,” Kramer said.
Due to timing, Kramer said the board would have to approve the plan this month or in April to expedite the work. The district would first undergo an approximate two- to three-month investment grade audit process, when engineers come in and perform design work.
After the audit, Kramer said contractors would know enough information to give firmer cost figures on everything from piping, ventilators, and boilers, to controls, air conditioning, vents and other needs.
Kramer said items of focus would include the steel piping system, unit ventilators in the classrooms that are original to the building, replacing the boilers from 1989, and controls work to ensure the systems are tied together.
Architectural Innovations previously estimated the overall work would cost $25 million. If the district focuses specifically on the heating upgrade, the cost is estimated to be about $2.5 million and another $300,000 to $500,000 for air conditioning, which wouldn’t include needed electrical upgrades.
A single company would be responsible for all aspects of the project: evaluating, engineering, designing, construction and post project support and training. The district also would be exempt from having to take the lowest bid.
School board president MC Knafelc said she doesn't see how the district can enter into a project of this magnitude in a span of just a month or two.
"And if we don't do something in a month or two, how are we going to take care of the heating problems in the junior high for next fall?"
School director Roger Kowal said the board definitely has a decision to make. He suggested borrowing from the fund balance and raising taxes, if necessary, to cover the cost.
"I would vote to raise taxes to keep the junior high school, because that building needs to be saved in Economy borough... and I feel the people would back me on my vote," Kowal said.