Schools replace Haller heaters

In a few short weeks, Sequim schools can check off another one of their "honey-do" list items.

As carpenters and painters work to complete renovations to the old Sequim High School building two blocks away, workers are preparing Helen Haller Elementary School for replacement of the school's heating system.

It's a $900,000 project that sees electric heat units replaced with heat pumps.

The school district got a $425,000 grant from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Instead of dipping into the district's general or capital project savings, the district is looking at borrowing the remaining $475,000.

After querying several banks, including some local, Sequim is looking at a loan from Cashmere Valley Bank, a 10-year loan with 3.75-percent interest in the first five years and 4.85- percent interest in the final five years.

"I've never seen an interest rate this low for a project like this," Sequim schools superintendent Bill Bentley said.

For several years, Sequim school officials had been looking to replace Haller's 25 units, many of them about 30 years old, and took action this fall when the state grant became available. The grant application process began in December 2009 and involved district staff, board members and other community members.

Brian Lewis, Sequim schools' business manager, said the new heat units should save the school district about $7,000 per year in energy costs.

"I think we saw some things coming together for us," Bentley said.

School board members accepted the grant on July 26.

"We get a major project done," Sequim school board president Bev Horan said.

Work preparing the way for new units should be finished by school's start on Sept. 8 but actual replacement of the units will take place after that, school officials said. The work will take place on evenings and weekends so as not to disrupt classroom activities, they said.

Reach Michael Dashiell at

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