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School Board approves replacement of all boilers at GMS, GHS

May 09, 2012
Gilford School Board members approved the replacement of all four boilers for the middle and high school building earlier this week at an estimated cost of $260,000, which will be taken from existing budgeted funds.

As recommended by Scott Isabelle, Assistant Superintendent for Business, School Board members voted to use about $102,000 from the heating oil fund, which had a substantial balance remaining as a result of the unusually warm winter. Along with $58,000 from the transportation line item, $28,000 from the drivers' education fund, and $60,000 from the curriculum and professional development and training fund, they plan to purchase and install four new boilers, two variable-speed circulator pumps and all necessary plumbing.

Isabelle explained that because of a design flaw, the current boilers, installed between 1999 and 2003, needed sections replaced several times each year. According to Isabelle, cast iron sections of all four boilers were prone to cracking, and have frequently needed to be replaced at an average cost of $2,400 per section.

After noticing the problem with the boilers, maintenance staff called an engineer to examine the system and determine if there was anything wrong with their system, or their use of the units.

"We had an engineer come in to see if there was something we were doing wrong," said Isabelle.

According to Isabelle, the engineer reported problems with those particular boilers in facilities around the country because of a flaw in the design, and said there was not misuse or failure of preventative maintenance in this case. Much of the repair work was done under warranty, but Isabelle reported that the warranty period is now over.

With seven sections replaced this past winter and one boiler currently inoperable, Isabelle recommended that the school board approve the replacement of all four boilers at once.

School Board member Kurt Webber asked Isabelle if they could replace two boilers now and refurbish two old units with the two replaced. Board Chair Paul Blandford joined Webber in asking if they could put off purchasing two of the new units until the next budget period.

"It would be a gamble," Isabelle replied, explaining that sections of the old boilers seemed to crack without warning, and one unit had sections replaced 17 times.

School district officials knew the boilers needed to be replaced in the near future, and mentioned it during the last budget season. According to Blandford, board members planned to replace the boilers over the next few fiscal years.

According to Isabelle, they would employ the engineer who designed the new elementary school boiler system last year, as they were happy with the performance of the new, energy-efficient system.

With the new boilers, Isabelle estimated that there would still be a surplus of more than $500,000 in the FY12 budget.

For the first time before the School Board at its last meeting were two policies regarding an addition to the discipline policy, to prohibit possession of synthetic marijuana and unauthorized use of prescription drugs.

The second policy would implement rules regarding naming memorials after groups or individuals. The policy would prohibit changing anything currently dedicated in someone's name, and prohibit the naming of any facility or area on school property. According to the policy the board intends to adopt, dedications would be limited to memorials, scholarships, awards, trees, shrubs, walks, designated landscaped areas, naming of district sponsored events and exclusive dedicated places of honor.

The new policies would come back for approval pending a second review by the policy committee.

In other business, Superintendent Kent Hemingway officially announced the dismissal by a Belknap Superior Court Judge of the legal action against members of the school board over the continuation of the district superintendent position.

According to Isabelle, in dealing with the legal action, the district had spent more than $16,000 in legal fees over a two-fiscal-year period.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, resident Mark Corry asked school board members if they planned to file a legal action against the petitioners, Doug Lambert, David Horvath and Kevin Leandro, for filing a frivolous lawsuit and regain that $16,000.

Blandford said it was something that school board members would need to discuss.

Lastly, Hemingway recognized four students who were selected to travel to Washington, D.C. for their National History Day projects.

Middle School students Patrick McKenna and Carter Mercer created a Web site on the history of Henry Ford's assembly line and how it revolutionized industry in the US.

High school students Noelle Benavides and Emily Hanf wrote a short play on the early Rock N' Roll revolution where they play teenage girls in period costume.

Students will travel to the University of Marilyn in June to present their projects with students from around the country.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
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