Ottawa Elementary Board looks at options to bring air conditioning to Lincoln

Board will have a future meeting to talk about the need

Ottawa Elementary’s school board acknowledged Tuesday that Lincoln School is in desperate need of air conditioning to follow suit with the rest of the district, although there’s some challenges in cooling down the old building.

School Board President Brenden Donahue wanted the board to move forward with discussion on installing air conditioning at Lincoln now the district has started installation on a new geothermal system at Jefferson and McKinley Elementary schools using COVID relief funds. That money will not be available for Lincoln, and that project, if the district were to go that route, would need a referendum voted on during an election.

Lincoln is an older school, which means installing a geothermal unit would be more expensive and take longer-term planning, as well.

Maintenance Director Marc Tabor said regardless of the direction the board decides to go right now, the school is going to need a temporary solution as well. This led the board to discuss window units for the classrooms.

“The complexity that you’re left with as a board is you did take an action on what we thought at the time would have been a $4 to $5 million project and as things arrived today, you were told $8 to $10 million four or five months ago and is it still that today?” said Superintendent Cleve Threadgill. “It could be a little bit more. Who knows? But to me, and this is just my thinking, it’s a good thing. You’re having a discussion and it wouldn’t hurt to at least come to a short-term solution, particularly if electrical has to be upgraded anyway.”

Donahue said it’s owed to the Lincoln staff to take action on getting air conditioning into the building. To keep saying the board is looking and looking while there’s two buildings getting air conditioning isn’t fair to those at Lincoln.

“I think if we approach this from a short-term view versus a long-term view, we may see that we get a little further along with some type of solution,” Donahue said. “The long-term solution is geothermal.”

Donahue said geothermal would cost more than the other two buildings combined and Threadgill said part of it lies in the unknowns of the Lincoln School building.

“It’s a very large, solidly built building with so many issues like maybe asbestos,” Threadgill said. “There’s so much in there that I think would be nuances that we didn’t face with Jefferson and McKinley.”

Donahue said the board is going to move forward with a special working meeting that focuses on the topic of air conditioning at Lincoln specifically at a later date, in hopes of coming up with at least a short-term solution.