The Schneider Electric cost proposal caught the Edwards County Community Unit School District #1 board members by surprise at last week’s regular board meeting.

The Schneider Electric estimates, according to Superintendent of Schools David Cowger, “most of them came in more than what we had talked about initially.” Specifically, the HVAC estimates were higher because once Schneider Electric “…looked at it…they realized it was more work that was needed,” he said. 

Schneider also recommended replacing all the pneumatic controls (along with older valves) which Cowger later noted was $385,900. in response to Cowger’s estimation that costs were at least 15 percent higher than previously discussed for most items.

Cowger noted that the $1,764,000 received from the sale of the bonds last month wouldn’t cover the entire cost, which he noted was anticipated, and suggested they utilize the sales tax money to offset the difference.

He also highlighted several other big projects that he separated from the Schneider estimate, such as lighting, which he felt the school could do on their own, plus apply for several rebates to help offset the incurred cost for that project. A second project removed was the rooftop at West Salem Grade School, which is aging, but no problems are currently threatening the school. The third project, which included lighting fixtures in the Linda Oxby Gymnasium was another project Cowger felt the school could do on their own.

The anticipated locker room upgrade costs have already been covered in the 50-50 Fiscal Year 2020 Round 1 School Maintenance Project Grant that Cowger that was applied for and has now been awarded to Edwards County Community Unit School District #1, which gives them $50K that they can match to spend a total of $100K on the upgrades needed. For more on the SMPG, see the Navigator story from Jan. 6.

Brian Mewes stated, “I’m just concerned by how far off they were on this…” referring to the $91K the district would have to now offset. The building automation estimate, he notes, “went from $400K to $642K. That’s over 50 percent increase in cost…”

That also didn’t begin to account for exploring the possibility of solar power as Cowger had previously suggested some of that bond money would possibly be utilized for prior to the sale of the bonds.

Andrew Spray noted this, but indicated he believed the “$1.8 was with the solar thing, and now we’re over $1.8M without the solar.” Jo Rector agreed with Spray.

Cowger’s response was that the bonds sale still wouldn’t have covered the $2.2M cost of solar power alone and there were currently no large rebates to be had. He mentioned that the school would have to look into additional funding or lease programs if that was the board’s intention to look further into solar power for the district.

The board turned back to the Schneider Electric proposal, with Mewes, Spray and Larry Speir all asking about different angles of the energy savings options, and then a brief discussion on reengaging with Schneider Electric for further information.

The final outcome, as suggested by both Cowger and Board President Dale Woods, was to table to agenda item until an appointment could be set up with Schneider Electric representatives to discuss the price disparities and more information before the board would make a decision to approve the work items.