HARRISON – Students attending Harrison Elementary School this fall will be breathing cleaner air, thanks to a major air quality renovation project.

The $392,000 project corrects long-standing complaints about air quality problems in the 18-year-old school on the Naples Road, SAD 17 Superintendent Mark Eastman told the Board of Directors Monday.

The work also makes the school fully air-conditioned, allowing it to be used by the community year-round.

Eastman said the building was designed to take advantage of solar gain, but that too much sun came in on one side of the building. The ventilation system wasn’t adequate to control the heat and humidity.

The warranty on the construction work had expired before the problem became apparent, said SAD 17 administrator John Parsons. “It was designed to all of the standards for school buildings at that time, but the orientation was wrong,” he said.

As a result, the school needed new carpeting and windows, new baseboard heating, and a whole new system of ductwork installed in classrooms and corridors.

The work is being done by Turner Building Group of Harrison, which Eastman described as having a national reputation for excellence in heating and air conditioning designs. The new system will draw in fresh air, and exhaust fans will rid the building of any airborne contaminants.

The electrical wiring has been upgraded for the system, which will be controlled digitally.

Funding for the project comes from the state’s Revolving Renovation Program, through which school districts can borrow money for renovation projects at no interest. Of the $392,000 total, the district must repay $222,313, or 57 percent.

District voters agreed to the work under this year’s school budget.

Eastman said signs of construction are all over the school right now, but that the duct work should be complete by Aug. 20. He said the majority of the work, with the exception of the air conditioning, will be completed by the first day of school, Sept. 1.

Eastman said the district will need to find additional money to fund work not covered by the loan, including repairs to outside masonry, installation of a moisture barrier, and vinyl siding, for a minimum of $21,500.

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