School's out, but work continues on campuses

By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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It’s out with the old and in with the new this summer at two Loomis schools. Franklin Elementary and Placer Elementary schools are undergoing $700,000 in renovations financed through a low-interest California Energy Commission loan and subsidized by PG&E rebates of $50,000. At Franklin, outdated lighting fixtures are being replaced with new energy-saving fixtures and bulbs. Placer will get the new lighting, plus new heating and air-conditioning units and an energy management system. Construction at the two schools began recently and is expected to be completed before school starts. Chris Stephens is an employee with Landmark Construction in Loomis, the company in charge of the renovations. Stephens said he was removing light fixtures in classrooms at Franklin School where he was once a student. “I lived in Loomis and was in these classrooms in 1988 and 1989. It’s like a trip down Memory Lane. I remember sitting in here in second and third grade and reading ‘James and the Giant Peach’ and ‘Willie Wonka,’” Stephens, who now lives in Roseville, said. “It’s pretty cool to be back here.” Chris Angel, maintenance supervisor for the schools, estimates the district has been spending approximately $10,000 a year for parts for the aged heating and air-conditioning units at Placer. “We’ve been putting Band-Aids on the Placer system for five years. We’ve been cannibalizing parts from old units. The maintenance staff spends three to four hours per week on the roof,” Angel said. Jay Stewart, assistant superintendent said, “Even if the total utilities savings is not realized, there are associated savings in terms of fewer repair and parts for aging systems.” Bob Saunders is a retiree who spearheaded the renovation project as a volunteer for the Loomis Union School District. Saunders was a fiber optic engineer for Pacific Bell and a speculative builder and has spent the last two years working to get the renovations completed. He said he secured a free energy audit and three percent, non-amortized loan from the California Energy Commission. After two different bond measures to fund much-needed renovations at the schools failed during elections, Saunders said he tried to find another way to get some critical renovation work done at Placer and Franklin. Saunders served on the school district modernization task force along with Paul Johnson, district superintendent; Jay Stewart, assistant superintendent; and Jim Foster, trustee president. According to Saunders, after much research and a facilities and construction plan review, he recommended to committee members what he called a “could do, should do, must do,” list and alternate funding sources. “The most important criteria was safety and function,” Saunders said. Saunders also said he did a cost-versus-benefit study and determined that “the ceiling up” approach that dealt with the Placer heating and air conditioning units and lighting at Franklin and Placer “would provide the best results for the costs.” The energy commission conducted a free energy audit and estimated a potential utility savings of $33,500 per year for the district. Those savings will be used to make the loan payments. “Instead of paying the money to PG&E, the district will pay back the loan. It’s a neutral cost to the district,” Saunders said. --------------------- SCHOOL MODERNIZATON Where: Franklin and Placer Elementary schools Who: Project for Loomis Union School District being conducted by Landmark Construction of Loomis What: New lighting fixtures at Franklin, new lighting fixtures and new heating and air-conditioning at Placer Cost: $700,000 funded with a low-interest, non-amortized California Energy Commission loan; $50,000 PG&E rebates. Energy savings expected to pay for loan. Completion: Before school starts Aug. 19