The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Danville News

July 11, 2014

Former DES will get $1 million upgrade

— DANVILLE — Approximately $1 million in renovations this summer will go towards making the former Danville Elementary School a more comfortable, efficient building.

The school, closed at the end of the 2010-2011 school year when the Danville Primary School opened, found a new purpose following the temporary closure of the Danville Middle School in Sept. 2011 due to flooding. The Danville Elementary School was fixed up to use as classrooms for middle school students, and after those children returned to the middle school at the start of this year the district decided it would be a shame to abandon the building.

“The building itself is in excellent shape,” said Rick Engle, director of maintenance for the Danville school district. “Over the years I think it will be a wise choice (to have kept it).”

This summer, the former school, now referred to as the Front Street building by the district, is part of an approximately $6 million energy efficiency project, primarily centered on updating lights and HVAC at the Danville High School. About $1 million of that project is going toward the Front Street building to install more efficient lighting and heating systems within the building. In total, the improvements to the two buildings are expected to save the district $2.8 million in energy costs over the course of 20 years.

The outside of the building will have new LED lights and a more effective boiler has been added to the building. The school used to run on half oil and half natural gas, Engle said, but the new boiler will operate entirely on the more effective natural gas. He expects it to be 15 to 20 percent more efficient than the previous model.

Interior lights will also be switched to more energy-conscious models; it’s the savings in lighting that help pay for the rest of the project, Engle said.

Air-conditioning will be added to the rooms that did not previously have it. Engle remembered a time when air-conditioning was considered a bonus instead of a standard feature.

“It’s not a luxury any more, it’s a requirement,” he said.

Doors at all buildings will also be upgraded to better keep in warm and cool air, further cutting down on energy costs, according to Jeff Hockenbrock, project manager for contractor McClure.

Among the renovations at both the Front Street building and Danville High School will be the ability to remotely control temperatures in both buildings through a web-based system. Once it’s installed, Engle will be able to alter the temperatures from a computer in his office or home or even from a smartphone. This feature already exists in other district buildings and has been a goal of the district for the past 10 years, Engle said.

“We plan to fully occupy the building eventually,” Engle said.

For now, the second floor has been rented out to Behavioral Specialists Incorporated, while the first floor will be the new home of the district’s e-Learning Cyber Academy starting this coming school year.

The academy previously operated out of a classroom in the Danville Middle School. The two classrooms it will have at Front Street are each bigger than their previous space, said academy head Jen Gurski.

The extra space “allows us to better separate the students by their needs, to get teacher support and intervention or guidance counselor support and intervention,” Gurski said.

The district is still looking for a tenant to rent the third floor, Engle said.

Email comments to rstoneback@thedanvillenews.com.

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