School district receives grant to improve heat and air system

OSCEOLA, AR (KAIT) - Osceola High School parents worry classrooms are too cold for students.

Superintendent Michael Cox said the school has heat, but only six of its 11 heat and air units are working properly.

"It's just a combination of old, worn out units we're in the process of replacing and the temperatures that we sure can't do anything about," Cox said. "Those units are about 30 plus years old."

Cox said it would cost the district about $30,000 to replace one unit.

"I'd hate to spend a lot of district money on replacing these old units and still not have anything like we really need," Cox said.

However, the district received a federal grant from the Arkansas Development Finance Authority and money from state partnerships totaling more than $6 million to take care of this. The Osceola School District is the first in the state to receive such a large grant for this type of project.

"All of the heat and air units on this whole campus, with the exception of Carroll Smith Elementary which is a brand new building, are going to be replaced," Cox said. "We're taking all of the units off the top of the building. Every classroom will have a heat and air unit and a thermostat in each classroom to control the heat and air."

Cox said this upgrade will not increase the district's debt.

"We're pretty much guaranteed the energy savings to make the payment every year," Cox said.

This means the upgrade will not affect your tax dollars either.

"That's another good thing. We haven't asked the tax payers for a rate increase so it's a win-win deal for Osceola and it's looking toward the future," Cox said.

One way the new system will benefit the district in the long run is by lowering its carbon footprint.

"Our kids will be more comfortable because it has a fresh air quality that comes with it, which, now, we don't have," Cox said.

Cox said the new heat and air system will eliminate any future temperature issues. A computer program controls the new system and notifies engineers of any problems before they happen.

"As superintendent, my priority is that every child has a warm, safe environment to be in every day," Cox said. "We're very much aware of this and we're taking action."

Cox said the project should be complete by October. Until then, he asks parents, students and staff for their patience.

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