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Ely gets cooler, warmer, safer

By Staff | Sep 5, 2014

Bryce Berginski/PCT Part of the school’s summer construction funnels guests to the front office. Ely also received upgrades to its heating and cooling systems.

On Aug. 21, new and returning students to Ely Elementary School in Rugby got to see and feel firsthand some of the fruits of summer construction efforts.

“Looking down the road, we’re trying to be as efficient as we possibly can be,” said Ely Principal Jason Gullickson.

A new heating and air conditioning system, as well as new lighting, was installed in most classrooms, except for the gymnasium. A newer, more cost-efficient electric boiler was also installed.

A new lobby was created by the front office, with a door separating it from the school hallway and the cafeteria for added security. Gullickson said the door acts as a physical barrier, one the front office can activate or release. Teachers and staff can get through the door via a digital key card system. The added security measure funnels guests to the front office.

Heating the school in the past revolved around two other boilers, one coal-fired and the other a fuel-oil boiler. Gullickson said the fuel oil necessary to run the boiler was getting expensive and the coal-fired boiler would be costly to maintain.

Gullickson said in the past, classroom climate control relied upon inefficient and noisy radiators that caused differences in temperatures between classrooms – which were compounded by days of high heat and humidity. Gullickson also said the old fluorescent lighting would sometimes hum and be a distraction to students. The new lighting and temperature control systems are quieter.

“In the long run it affects what we do here on a daily basis,” Gullickson said of the project. “It’s better for learning, and that’s been our goal, to ultimately deliver a better product.”

Phase one of the construction project began in 2011 with new wiring installed in the school. The actual construction project began, according to Gullickson, a few days after the 2013-14 school year ended. Teachers helped expedite the process of getting the building ready for contractors and construction crews. A construction deadline of Aug. 14 was in place, with most of the work finished by then. Volunteers consisting of teachers, parents and community members helped clean up the school and prepare it for the first day of classes.

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