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HVAC units at Decatur High School to be replaced over the summer

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HVAC units at Decatur High School to be replaced over the summer

Decatur High School, City Schools of Decatur, N McDonough Street.

Decatur, GA — Some of the HVAC units will be replaced at Decatur High School over the summer. The HVAC system has reached the end of its lifecycle, Chief Operating Officer Sergio Perez said during the Decatur School Board work session on March 12.

Perez said that DHS is 60 years old and the main campus is in poor condition.

The high school was evacuated three times in January and February due to malfunctions in the HVAC system and a strong gas smell. In January, Fire Chief Toni Washington said the odor came from an overheated belt in the HVAC system.

“The energy recovery units are between 25 and 30 years old,” Perez said. “We are in the process of acquiring and scheduling the replacement of six energy recovery units, which will be completed over the summer.”

The HVAC system at the DHS performing arts center will be replaced over the next two years as well due to the heavy usage of the system. The boilers at the DHS career academy will also be replaced within the next few years.

Perez presented the state of operations report on Tuesday. The operations department oversees facility maintenance, school nutrition, transportation, safety and security, capital projects, and renovations, among other things.

“Some of the concerns and challenges that we have…are the increase of material costs, the increase in energy costs, the increase in vendor labor costs, [and] extended lead times for equipment and repair parts,” Perez said.

The average age of City Schools of Decatur’s buildings is about 78 years and in recent years, the operations department has focused on replacing aging HVAC equipment.

Here’s a look at several other recommended improvements at the schools:

– Replacing HVAC pumps, upgrading door hardware and renovating the restrooms at Clairemont Elementary over the next two years.

– Replacing HVAC pumps and renovating restrooms and the playground at Glennwood Elementary over the next two years.

– Replacing HVAC pumps and rooftop units at Oakhurst Elementary over the next five years.

– Replacing rooftop HVAC units and pumps at Westchester Elementary over the next two years.

– Replacing air conditioning units and HVAC pumps at Winnona Park Elementary over the next two years.

– Replacing the elevator at Fifth Avenue and Talley Street Upper Elementary Schools over the next two years.

– Replacing door hardware and exhaust fans at Beacon Hill Middle School over the next two years.

– Replacing 25 rooftop HVAC units at College Heights.

When it comes to transportation, CSD transports about 1,500 students. The school district has 27 school buses; the oldest bus is a 2010, and the newest one is a 2020. Buses typically have a life span of 12–15 years, Perez said.

“City Schools of Decatur will receive an allotment of $440,000 to purchase five buses. These funds must be used by the end of fiscal year 2025,” Perez said.

Perez also discussed a few capital projects, including plans to build a new early childhood learning center and convert two CSD-owned homes into duplexes and triplexes.

The Decatur City Commission adopted a missing middle housing ordinance in February 2023 to reallow duplexes, triplexes, and quadplexes to be built in single-family zoning areas. The school board began planning to convert two homes into duplexes shortly after the ordinance was adopted.

“The report also mentions progress on duplexes, with the program management team working on conceptual design options, budgeting, and permit applications,” the agenda packet says. “Once this process is complete, the options and next steps will be presented to the Board.”

CSD owns the greenspace at the corner of Commerce Drive and West Trinity Place. The district’s facilities master plan includes a concept for building a new early learning childhood center at 346 W. Trinity Place.

“This building will be net-zero, carbon-neutral, well-ventilated and high energy efficient, ensuring it does not contribute to carbon emissions or greenhouse gases,” Perez said. “We’ll offset the electrical usage with 100% renewable energy sources.”

In other business:

– The school board continued discussing the 2025 budget during the regular meeting. The school board will likely tentatively approve the FY 2025 budget in April.

The FY 2025 budget anticipates receiving $101.8 million in revenue and spending upwards of $102 million to $105 million in the general fund. Chief Financial Officer Dr. Lonita Broome is projecting a 4% increase in the tax digest.

The board seeks to increase teacher and staff pay in the next fiscal year. The board previously considered several options for increasing teacher and staff salaries, and they favored options called “Option 5” and “Option 7.”

Option 5 would increase the entry-level salary to $55,200 while working toward increasing it to $57,000. There would also be a 5-8% salary increase for existing teachers and a 5% salary increase for non-teaching positions.

If City Schools of Decatur pursues this option, the total expenditures for FY 2025 would be about $102 million.

The state budget also includes a pay raise for teachers. According to the Associated Press, public school teachers would receive a $2,500 raise beginning July 1. City Schools of Decatur receives funding for a portion of its staff and uses its local dollars to fund the rest of the staff.

CSD’s FY25 budget anticipates $104 million in revenue, with additional money from the state for teacher salaries. Expenditures would be about $105 million, with expenses included for the governor’s proposal and CSD’s option five.

Another option presented, option seven, aims to increase the entry-level salary for teachers to $57,000. This would be a 5-15% salary increase for teachers and a 5% salary increase for non-teaching positions. This option would bring the FY 2025 expenditures to about $105 million. CSD is planning to see what option seven would look like with the addition of the state teacher pay raise.

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