Costs for Marlborough school HVAC upgrades may exceed projections

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Costs for Marlborough school HVAC upgrades may exceed projections
Jaworek Elementary School remains first in line for HVAC upgrades in Marlborough. (Photo/Stuart Foster)

MARLBOROUGH – Planned upgrades at Marlborough’s Jaworek and Kane elementary schools to relieve heat problems could cost $2 million more than initially anticipated, according to the school district’s Finance and Operations Director Douglas Dias.

Dias spoke at a School Committee meeting earlier this month, noting that the district had earmarked $6.4 million for these projects.

Based on a first set of estimates that the district had received, however, that amount may be close to $2 million short.

The district is getting a second set of estimates to make sure the figure is correct, according to Dias on July 12.

“If those figures stick, we’re planning on prioritizing Jaworek just because it’s a bigger school, more students, and we experienced a little bit more of a heat issue on that site,” Dias said.

Dias added that, in that case, the district would evaluate different options to deal with the heat at Kane Elementary School.

He said that the project is moving forward, envisioning a new update for the School Committee in August with more information.

City has eyed ESSER funding

Marlborough has planned to use Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) money to upgrade aging HVAC systems at both Kane and Jaworek.

The schools have problems with overheating, with school officials reporting temperatures periodically soaring past 80 degrees in certain classrooms.

The heat problems at Jaworek and Kane were highlighted in a May visit from state, local and federal leaders.

Mayor Arthur Vigeant and U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan specifically toured Jaworek with City Councilor Don Landers and state legislators Carmine Gentile and Danielle Gregoire.

Costs for Marlborough school HVAC upgrades may exceed projections
Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant stands with State Rep. Danielle Gregoire and US Rep. Lori Trahan at Jaworek Elementary School. (Photo/submitted)

At the time, now former schools Superintendent Michael Bergeron noted that the problems with heat are not just contained to the two schools.

They also apply, he said, to the city’s Whitcomb Middle School and Richer Elementary School.

Kane and Jaworek were chosen for ESSER upgrades, however, for a variety of reasons.

They are much smaller than Whitcomb, which makes HVAC upgrades more feasible in the parameters of ESSER.

Richer, meanwhile, is the subject of a recent statement of interest filed with the Massachusetts School Building Authority.

The city, which is also grappling with capacity concerns brought on by a surge in school enrollment, is hoping for state money to expand and/or renovate the Richer School.

Trahan noted issues in comments to the Community Advocate this year, acknowledging HVAC concerns, among other things.

“It’s just proof that we need to continue these investments and ensure that our kids are in optimal learning environments,” Trahan said.

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