Johnson Controls will service new addition by M. Jill Karolevitz Johnson Controls of Sioux Falls has been accepted as the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) instrumentation and controls supplier for Vermillion High School�s construction project as a result of Monday night�s Vermillion School Board meeting.
The school board accepted Wiltgen Construction�s bid as the contractor on Dec. 22, but one alternate, known as CC-7A (using Honeywell, Inc., Home and Building Control for HVAC instrumentation and controls), was neither accepted nor rejected. Using Johnson Controls was already in the base bid, but accepting alternate CC-7A would subtract $31,000 from Wiltgen�s price.
The school board wanted more investigation by the architect, DLR Group of Omaha, NE, before making its final decision.
Marlin Conzet, Bob Devine and Jon Grad, representatives of Johnson Controls, which already provides HVAC for all the schools in Vermillion, attended Monday night�s school board meeting to present information about their system.
�Service is our priority,� said Devine, service operations manager for Johnson Controls. �You have a serviceman who lives here in Vermillion who can be called upon when necessary. There�s continuity in the system because we�re already here in the other buildings. We offer the latest technology and we can operate at optimal levels to insure your costs will be low. But if you look at other providers, you�re looking at training on a new system for your own staff and calling Sioux Falls or Sioux City for repairs. We�re already here.�
A software/hardware upgrade is also part of the Johnson Controls bid.
�This would upgrade the whole system throughout the school district,� said Grad, service team supervisor for Johnson Controls. �We don�t want to go backwards. We want to put in the best for you.�
Grad also spoke of the long-standing relationship that Johnson Controls has with the school district.
�We want to maintain this relationship with your district,� he said. �We think we�re on a good path here and we want to keep that.
�You�re spending millions of dollars here to put on a new addition,� Grad continued. �Once it is completed, a lot of it will be bricks and mortar. But the control system is a very important reflection on the job. We have the track record to insure that the people who are using the facility will be proud of what you build here.
�If you were to go with the other company, it�s not Honeywell, it�s a company that peddles Honeywell products,� he added. �It�s an unproven company and once you bring them in, you�re stuck with them. But we�re bringing our reputation to the table.�
�If we were starting from scratch � putting up a whole new building, would we install two different control systems in it? Probably not,� said Superintendent Robert Mayer. �Why would we do it now?�
�I agree,� said Tom Craig, school board president. �And Johnson Controls has a track record for service. It�s always better to go with someone you know.�
�I think we should keep continuity in the system,� said school board member Nick Merrigan. �We may have to look at bidding on major repairs in the future, but I agree with Bob. We should keep it all the same.�
School board member Jim Kinney, however, was concerned with the lack of competition for purchasing supplies and repairs by using just one company. He said the school district could be held �over the barrel� for maintenance and repair costs without the �checks and balances� of competition.
�We�re not hearing the other side of the story,� he said. �You (the Johnson Controls representatives) are here, but the other guys aren�t here to tell us about themselves.�
Despite Kinney�s concerns, the vote for Johnson Controls passed unanimously.
The school board also voted to bus open enrollment students to Vermillion. The motion that was accepted permits open enrollment students �to use district transportation services contingent upon their payment of any additional cost incurred by the district in providing the transportation. This allowance will be offered to families that reside within 10 miles of the existing bus routes.�
School board members also discussed all-day kindergarten.
�A task force is being formed to study the possibility of implementing all-day kindergarten here,� Mayer said. �The standards of education that are being set require more and more out of kids � even at that age level � and it is becoming more difficult to meet those standards in half a day. We want to have a district-wide study on the pros and cons of this issue. It�s controversial and we need volunteers to look into it. But it�s not just a one-sided issue. We need parents, too. We can�t do it without their input.�
School board members on the task force will be Mark Bottolfson and Tom Craig � both of whom have children who will be attending kindergarten in the future. The first meeting is set for Jan. 17 at the administration building at 7 p.m.
�There is a trend to go to all-day kindergarten,� said Bob Bowker, elementary school principal. �But we need to look into it to see where it fits in with us. We need to address the issue and see how we as a community and we as a school district feel about it.�
The task force will make recommendations to the board, �hopefully this spring,� according to Liz Hogen, director of curriculum and staff development. She will also serve on the task force as will Bowker and Mark Upward, kindergarten staff and members of the community.