The Richmond Register

April 20, 2014

Elementary schools built in ‘60s getting upgrades

Renovations to improve energy efficiency, entrances

By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer

RICHMOND — Renovation of three Madison County elementary schools built in Richmond during the 1960s will start this summer.

The county school board voted Thursday to continue with the second phase of state paperwork required for the projects.

With a target completion date of August 2015, renovations and alterations at Daniel Boone, Kit Carson and White Hall elementary schools are estimated to cost almost $12 million.

While the buildings will undergo electrical, heating/cooling and plumbing renovations, Clotfelter-Samokar architect Tony Thomas also presented renderings of plans to transform the entrances and bus lanes of the three schools.

After viewing the slides, board chair Mona Isaacs pointed out that the brick towers and colored canopies that will be added to the front of each building will make the older schools look very similar to newer schools such as Glenn Marshall Elementary and Farristown Middle.

White Hall’s bus lane also will be extended and 40 parking spaces will be added in front of the school.

Plans include changes that will ensure the buildings meet Energy Star efficiency standards, Thomas said. 

But with the existing structures and space available, the schools’ HVAC systems cannot be upgraded to geothermal systems, such as those installed in the newest facilities, he said. 

Instead, Thomas proposed the installation of variable refrigerant flow systems. This type of equipment is “becoming much more widely accepted and is a very energy efficient system,” he said.

Board member Becky Coyle asked if the system would completely replace existing window HVAC units.

“Absolutely — probably the crux of this project’s initiation,” said Thomas about the outdated heating and cooling systems. Because wall radiators produce so much heat, teachers sometime turn on air conditioners.

“You’re heating and cooling at the same time,” Thomas said. “It’s really not anybody’s fault, it’s a 54-year-old building.”

Renovations also include increasing the wall thickness by adding insulation between the existing exterior and a new brick facade.

“Most of the older ‘60s portions of the walls at all three schools are 4-inch block and 4-inch brick. That’s all you have from interior to exterior, so you have a lot of heat loss and heat gain. There’s no insulation. That’s a rather significantly large portion of the area we are renovating,” Thomas said.

There was some discussion about adding studs and drywall on the inside, which would be a cheaper option, he said, but the classrooms already are small and “there’s been bad results from that in the past.”

Schools will have extra duplex outlets installed in each classroom, an upgraded bell, clock, fire alarm and intercom systems, classroom cubby storage, interior finishing, drop ceilings and new ceramic tiles in the bathrooms.

Renovations at all three schools will essentially be the same, except for Daniel Boone, where the current L-shaped library will be transformed into a space better-suited to host meetings and classes. The libraries of White Hall and Kit Carson were upgraded in the 1990s.

At Kit Carson, Thomas looked at ways to eliminate the staircase leading up to the front door, but “any options we looked at just involved an incredible amount of earth work. We can do anything if the board wants to spend that kind of money. But it’s a lot of money to build that up,” he said.

A new brick facade will cover the exposed concrete foundation around the school.

Superintendent Elmer Thomas reported other cost savings later in the meeting. Since becoming superintendent, Thomas said he has been following certain expenses very closely, such as how much the district is spending on contracted services in technology, HVAC and electricity.

Much of the work related to these areas are now performed by district employees, he said, and the district has paid out $250,000 less this year for those services.

Thomas said he anticipates an additional $64,000 in savings over the next two months.

“This truly has been a team effort to cut costs,” he said.

See Tuesday’s Richmond Register for a story about the district’s new Mathematics Task Force and its “Meaningful Math Matters” initiative.

Crystal Wylie can be reached at or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.