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Connecticut Schools Get $3.5M for HVAC, Ventilation

Connecticut is doling out $122 million for air quality improvements in 48 school districts, intended to fix or replace boilers, ventilation components, and controls and technology systems related to HVAC operations.

HVAC system on the ceiling
(TNS) — Nearly $3.5 million in state funding was awarded to schools in West Hartford last month for heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades.

The Connecticut Department of Administrative Services announced the grants for local school districts across the state on May 20, totaling $122 million for air quality improvement in 48 districts.

In West Hartford, Duffy Elementary School received $1.6 million, and Webster Hill Elementary School got $1.8 million.

"This state funding is huge for our students, their families, teachers and staff and West Hartford taxpayers," said State Sen. Derek Slap, D-West Hartford, in a statement. "Ensuring our students have clean and healthy environments to learn in has been a top priority of my mine and my colleagues. I am thrilled to see this funding make its way to our classrooms through state and local collaboration."

The HVAC system upgrade project at Duffy will cost a total of $4.3 million, according to the award data. At Webster Hill, the total project cost is $4.7 million.

"We are thankful and encouraged by both of the recently awarded HVAC grants by the state Department of Administrative Services. West Hartford Public Schools has begun projects to renovate and replace the HVAC systems at our elementary schools to increase and modernize the schools' ventilation. These grants will pay for a portion of the projects at Duffy Elementary School and Webster Hill Elementary School," West Hartford Superintendent Paul Vicinus wrote in an email to CT Insider.

The grants are being awarded through the state's HVAC Indoor Air Quality Grants Program for Public Schools, which awarded its first round of funding in 2023. This is the first year that West Hartford will be receiving funds.

But that doesn't mean that air quality wasn't a major focus of the town before. In the Board of Education's 12-year Capital Improvement Plan adopted last year, the biggest expenditure that the school system planned for West Hartford's 2023-24 budget concerned air quality in the town's elementary schools. The Board of Education has pushed for projects to improve air ventilation and filtration in schools for years before that as well.

According to the town's Capital Improvement Plan, the majority of West Hartford's elementary schools were built prior to 1964 and lack modern air ventilation systems and air conditioning.

While the town's high schools and middle schools all have full HVAC systems, only two elementary schools (Charter Oak International Academy and Smith STEM School) have building-wide fresh air and air conditioning systems. Two elementary schools have building-wide fresh air systems with limited air conditioning (Braeburn Elementary School and Wolcott Elementary School), and the remaining seven elementary schools have limited fresh air and air conditioning along with single-pane window systems, according to the plan.

Because of that, West Hartford aims to provide funding over a 15-year period to make improvements at the nine elementary schools that lack modern fresh air, air conditioning and modern window systems, according to the plan.

"Many studies have shown that proper fresh air and comfort is a substantial benefit to student success in a learning environment," according to the plan.

Examples of eligible projects for the state program include replacing, upgrading, or repairing boilers and other heating and ventilation components; replacing controls and technology systems related to HVAC operations; installing or upgrading air conditioning or ventilation systems; and other improvements to indoor air quality, according to the Department of Administrative Services announcement.

©2024 The News-Times (Danbury, Conn.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.