North Franklin School District gets grant for upgrades

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldApril 19, 2013 

The North Franklin School District will receive $465,800 from the state to upgrade heating and cooling systems at several of its schools and its administrative offices.

The state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction announced this week that 28 districts will receive almost $20 million to modernize their facilities.

"We are seeing projects that replace old heating systems with newer, more energy-efficient systems," state Superintendent Randy Dorn said. "Some districts are replacing old fluorescent lighting fixtures for which bulbs are no longer being made. Students and staff will benefit from a better indoor environment."

North Franklin officials said the district's upgrades will be carried out in conjunction with already-planned construction projects. The district also will save about $30,000 a year in energy costs.

"We're very excited about it," said North Franklin Superintendent Gregg Taylor.

The grants are provided as part of the 2012 Jobs Now Act, state legislation that has provided about $40 million to improve energy efficiency in school facilities during the past year, according to a news release.

Schools benefit from having new infrastructure with lower energy costs while the grants also helped stimulate the construction industry.

North Franklin is only the third Mid-Columbia school district to receive money from the program. Kennewick and Pasco received grants almost a year ago.

Kelly Gregg, North Franklin's director of operations and maintenance, said the grant will specifically go toward projects at Mesa and Basin City elementary schools, Connell High School, and the district's administrative building.

The bulk of the money will pay for new heating and cooling units and new high-efficiency boilers. However, Gregg said he's excited about new control systems included in the equipment.

"They've done so much work, so much advancement to be efficient with your programming," he said, adding it will save money on utilities and staff time.

Along with reduced energy costs and less maintenance, the district will also benefit from incentives offered by utility companies for energy-efficient systems.

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