School Board to mull boiler request

WOODSTOCK — The Shenandoah County School Board plans to ask the county for money to fix or replace a boiler at W.W. Robinson Elementary School in Woodstock.

The board, which approved its budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year at a May 6 work session, did not include the cost of a boiler in its budget or Capital Improvement Plan because it did not anticipate the boiler breaking or showing advanced signs of aging.

The cost of a new single boiler is estimated at $30,000-$35,000, said Eugene Dykes, maintenance supervisor for Shenandoah County Public Schools. The cost would be “slightly higher” if he opts for two machines, but “well worth it,” he said.

Fixing the broken boiler would cost about $9,000, he said, “[but] I don’t feel it’s prudent to put that kind of money into a 26-year-old boiler.”

The estimated cost Dykes suggested would cover the cost of a single boiler, though he said a double boiler would be a better investment.

A single boiler means not having a redundancy should the boiler break, he said, which during the winter would mean having to rent a boiler or put money into an old one to heat the school.

All three county schools have double boilers in their original wings, he said. The replacement boiler would outfit the 1990s wing at Robinson, where an April 24 routine boiler room inspection turned up signs of exposure to extreme temperatures in the outer panel of the boiler.

After hearing Dykes’ report, School Board member Kathryn Holsinger suggested the board ask the county for a supplemental appropriation rather than using funding for the coming year already intended for other repairs.

The board will hear pricing on the cost of a new boiler within the next week or two, before it presents its request to the Board of Supervisors.

Calling the boiler “an unexpected cost,” Superintendent Jeremy Raley compared the situation to that of the district’s need to replace its aging and faulty school bus radio system.

“We expected to get more time out of it,” Raley said. “… These things happen.”

The median life expectancy of a water tube boiler is 24 years, according to meeting documents, and the boiler was installed 25 years ago.

The discussion followed other meeting reports of the need for school funding, though the board also discussed plans for a free Summer Food Service Program to help offset the county’s greater than 50 percent of children on the schools’ free and reduced lunch program.

The program will provide free lunches four days a week to all children from July 6 to Aug. 6, and will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday at W.W. Robinson.

The nutritious lunch is free and open to any child 18 or younger who can get a ride to the school. Meals will be funded through the USDA on a meal-by-meal reimbursement basis, but the program does not include funding for transportation.

Disputing the old saying that there’s no such thing as a free meal, Raley told the board, “Yes there is. Come and get one.”

The School Board will hold its next regular meeting at 7 p.m. June 9. At 7 p.m. on May 26, Director of Finance Cynthia Page will give a presentation on financial management to the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors.

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com