Trane representatives Nancy McBee and Owen Nevader attended Monday night’s board meeting at Cleveland Middle School to make a proposal to the board and Director of Schools Dr. Martin Ringstaff.
Trane wants the school system to enter into a performance contract for all upgrades, renovation and replacement of heating and air needs systemwide. Such a contract would require a commitment from the school system for a considerable expense which is yet to be determined.
The proposal was discussed at length, with no action taken by the board.
McBee and Nevader said there are several options for the school board in mitigating its deficiencies in heating, air and water, especially with upgrades and/or replacements for the east wing at Cleveland High School.
The board has been told by its maintenance team that renovations (and/or replacements) for the east wing will cost more than $1 million.
McBee said the cost of the east wing project could be lessened with the proposed performance contract. “We can do this where no one else can, because we make all the equipment,” she said.
A big hold-up on the proposal is that city schools would be obligated for some expense, even if the board had second thoughts and decided not to go through with the project.
Trane, which has been evaluating Cleveland school needs for the past year, would do an audit on all heating and air-conditioning needs for schools systemwide, including all the work at Cleveland High.
“The plan would re-allocate energy funding to make upgrades,” McBee said.
The company would bring an audit (proposal) to the school board for final approval before work begins. If board members were to decide the plan is not to their liking (or too expensive) they can reject the proposal. But, the school system would still be obligated for the cost of the audit.
School board members did not embrace Trane’s proposal due to the lack of firm numbers on the cost of the work needed, both at Cleveland High School and throughout the system.
In attempting to sell its proposal and strengthen the company’s credibility, McBee said Trane has 1,635 employees statewide and includes several school systems and the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga as its customers. School systems that have contracts with Trane include Knox, Cumberland, Jefferson and Claiborne counties.
“The Cleveland School System (overall) is in pretty good shape,” McBee said, “but you’re operating at 86 percent optimum.” She said Trane has completed a summary of heating, air and water.
“There is an intense need in the east wing at Cleveland High School,” the Trane representatives continued, agreeing with the assessment of the maintenance department. “Your most pressing need is Cleveland High’s east wing (with its aging HVAC system).”
“You have two options,” continued McBee. “No. 1, you can rehabilitate the system, which could get you through another 15 years. No. 2, you can enter into a performance contract (with Trane), which could reduce the cost of rehabilitating Cleveland High’s east wing.”
“Our goal in most projects like this, is a self-funding project,” McBee added. “Trane is an energy services company.”
Trane’s evaluation of energy needs says the school system is currently paying $1.10 per square foot throughout the system (for energy needs). McBee said upgrades and improvements (with a performance contract) could lower that cost to 87 cents per square foot.
Board member Dr. Murl Dirksen asked Paul Ramsey, the school system’s energy manager, what he thought about Trane’s proposal.
“It’ll take some study, but Trane stands by its work,” Ramsey said.
McBee urged the board to sit down and discuss the proposal (in greater depth) with Trane, “You need to determine terms and objectives of what you want to do,” she said.
Board member Steve Morgan said he was concerned about “getting it all in” with money and terms on something that has yet “to be determined.”
“We would do this ‘to be determined’ within the next two weeks,” McBee said.
“This is such a huge thing for us,” said board chair Peggy Pesterfield. “Still, I’d like to continue our discussion on this proposal,” she said as the board and Trane representatives concluded talks for the evening.
The school board Site Committee is expected to continue its discussion on this issue Wednesday.
n In the discussion of energy needs and systemwide progress, Ramsey had some good news for the board.
Garrett Self, of Energy Education Inc., in Dallas, was at the board meeting to present the Cleveland School System with an “Energy Pacesetter Award.” This award acknowledges the school system has saved more than $1 million with energy conservation..
Accepting the award were Ringstaff, Pesterfield and Ramsey.