Middle school feeling the heat


By Jeff Linville - [email protected]



Mount Airy Middle School is using a rented chiller to keep classrooms cool for the rest of the school year.

City school officials knew that the regular chiller there was in bad shape and needed replacement. In fact, the Surry County Board of Commissioners earmarked funds in its preliminary budget toward the replacement cost. However, the chiller didn’t make it until the new one could be purchased and arrive.

Dr. Don Martin, interim superintendent, said that the district staff worked quickly to get a rented chiller on site and hooked up.

Unfortunately, the rental cost is $3,600 a week, Martin noted. He suggested to the school board that it approve renting the chiller for three weeks. That would keep air going for the rest of class days and teacher development days.

Then, the HVAC system will be shut down, and ventilation closed off to help keep humidity at bay, he said. Even still, there could be a need for some humidifiers to keep moisture under control over the summer.

The Surry County budget presented by County Manager Chris Knopf has recommended $160,000 for the chiller replacement. Martin said he spoke with Tommy Stanley, of Stanley Heating and Cooling of Elkin. Stanley would be willing to do the work for $149,900, he said.

There is a long lead time on getting an expensive piece of equipment like this chiller, Martin warned. If the county board approves the annual budget late this month, it would take about four weeks for the chiller to arrive.

Still, that would allow the piece to be installed and tested by the end of July.

The offices have a separate cooling system, so this area will still be available for use all summer, Martin added.

Since the classrooms will be shut down, the summer school classes will be relocated to the high school.

What about the gym, asked school board member Ben Cooke.

That area is part of the chiller’s system, so it would not be air-conditioned this summer.

Tim Matthews said the gym wasn’t cooled when it was first constructed, but some large fans were used to circulate air. Those fans might still be around.

While the middle school is on the county commissioners’ to-do list, another school project is not.

Knopf did not recommend to the county board a bigger project at Tharrington Primary. That budget item, listed as HVAC/mechanical replacement, is listed at $420,000.

By Jeff Linville

[email protected]

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.

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