Steel Valley Moves to Protect Its Staff, Students By Sinking Emergency Funds into Heating Fixes

Plumber repairs furnaceAccording to a report from the Weather Channel, winter 2013 saw some of the coldest, most severe weather in human history. Snowfall in the contiguous 48 states was the most voluminous it has been in 47 years. Many estimate that the coming winter could be equally harsh, if not more so.

Not wanting to wait around to find out, one Pittsburgh-area school recently decided to pump its emergency funds — some $165,000 — into renovations that would completely rehab the faltering heating system in its elementary school. In partnership with a local construction firm, Steel Valley School District scrapped earlier plans to use the emergency funding to buy an on-premises steel storage building, opting instead to help protect its students and faculty from a potentially severe winter by investing in new pipes, air handlers, and blowers.

The Plan Hasn’t Garnered Universal Support
Despite Steel Valley’s decision to invest in the safety and health of its students, not all parents and school board members are on-board with the decision. In comparison to the proposed storage building plan, investing in a rehabbed heating system could be seen as a markedly less reliable investment, especially as heating systems require continuous repairs and maintenance over time, both of which require substantial capital. Luckily, it’s a criticism that can be mitigated by working with professional heating contractors, which can help reduce the long term costs of maintaining the elementary school’s HVAC system, and keep it running for anywhere between 12-15 years without any need for serious investments.

Others point out that speculation over another winter full of violent visits from the polar vortex is just that. Some have estimated winter 2014 will be comparatively mild, and others still have called any predictions about our wintry fate “unreliable,” at best. For the majority of Steel Valley’s governing body, the threat another wicked winter poses, however unreliable, is reason enough to spend the district’s emergency funding on this project.

Do you think the Steel Valley School District made the right call here? Tell us why or why not in the comment section below.

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