The LCO Ojibwe School was the recent recipient of a $13.9 million dollar grant to fix the HVAC system of the school. The grant was awarded on Dec. 28th, 2022.
According to the LCO Ojibwe School Superintendent, Jessica “Hutch” Hutchison, much of the current HVAC infrastructure at the LCO School is well beyond its intended lifespan, in disrepair or not functioning at all, resulting in costly repairs and service calls, dating back years.
“Anyone who has visited the school can attest to severely fluctuating temperatures either due to no heat, too much heat, lack of AC or in consistent function of heating and cooling. Ventilation and air handling systems are also either non-existent or not functioning,” Hutch explained. “As would be expected, the condition of the HVAC systems impacts other systems (electrical, water pipes, etc) that lead to endless dollars spent on Operations and Maintenance repairs. These issues have been cited in BIA inspections and safety audits.”
In December of 2021, Jason Weaver in his role as Facility Director, enlisted Johnson Controls to do a Feasibility Study and Comprehensive HVAC Assessment for the entire campus, which was completed in the summer of 2022.
In October 2022, working closely with the BIE Regional Engineer David Wohler, a funding request was made by the school to address the immediate need for heat in the gym/cafeteria/locker room, which was completely beyond repair. The BIE/BIA approved the funding for a temporary outdoor unit which was secured and installed and is currently providing heat to the space.
According to Hutch, in November, a more substantial emergency funding request was again made for 13.9 million dollars to address all of the heating, Ventilation, Air Handling and Cooling systems for the campus.
“This request required significant collaboration with the BIE Engineer, a capacity review of the school, its audits, and school board, a tribal resolution supporting the project, and even some communication with Senator Baldwin’s office before it was finally approved on December 28th,” Hutch said.
The project has 10 Facility Improvement Measures (FIMS) that encompass all of the buildings on the campus other than the bus barn and woodworking shop. The design phase of construction has begun, with all designs needing BIA approval prior to the start of construction.
“Though it was hoped that all work could be done over the summer of 2023, due to delays in the funding of the project as well as the scope of the work, the project will take place in 2 phases, summer 2023 and summer 2024,” Hutch stated.
She also noted that 2.1 million of the grant is for backup generators and associated networking costs for all buildings.