Friday, June 24, 2016
[Yuba County] Grand jury faults district in school A/C breakdown that led to walkouts
Last year's air-conditioning failure at Lindhurst High School resulted from lack of adequate water treatment and poor maintenance by the Marysville Joint Unified School District, according to the 2015-16 Yuba County grand jury.
The air-conditioning system failed in June 2015, leading students to stage walkouts during the hot weather.
Lack of water treatment and maintenance "has led to the water lines becoming corroded and blocked, reducing the efficiency of the system and putting pressure on the central plant," the grand jury said in its recent report.
Chillers at the school failed prematurely after eight years of operation, "and the grand jury's research showed that, with proper maintenance, they have a life expectancy of around 20 to 30 years."
The chiller removes heat from a liquid via vapor-compression or absorption refrigeration cycle. This liquid can then be circulated through a heat exchanger to cool air or equipment as required.
"Through interviews, it was stated that nine years ago there was no set maintenance program for the chillers. The tubes and cooler towers had scale buildup and were inefficient. It was stated by more than one interviewee that an independent contractor had been contracted to maintain the system but had been dropped more than 10 years ago in order to save money," the grand jury said.
The school district "failed to maintain a log detailing work done on the HVAC system as well as any noted irregularities of the HVAC system at Lindhurst High School," the grand jury said.
HVAC stands for heating, ventilating, and air conditioning.
The panel "requested to see the maintenance log but was advised by MJUSD that they were unable to locate or did not have the log. In addition, the grand jury finds that MJUSD has very little documentation on work done through outside contractors," the report said.
In an email on Wednesday, Superintendent Gay Todd said the district will have a "formal response" to the grand jury's report next week.
"The grand jury investigation led to the determination that the air-conditioning system had not been properly maintained leading to a complete failure of the system in June 2015. During interviews with school personnel, the grand jury was told that there has been a history of HVAC issues at the high school going back to the first year following the construction of the new complex," the report said.
In its report, the grand jury said it found "no evidence that the water was being treated per documented specifications found in a number of magazines and periodicals related to building maintenance."
A few weeks prior to the failure, "one of the technicians noticed a difference in the sound of the air conditioner and also had a concern with the controls. This technician, via work order, notified management of his concern. The grand jury was unable to find documentation showing what action was taken by management as a result of this work order," the report said.
According to the grand jury, "the technician currently assigned to maintain the HVAC system is unfamiliar with the system. After the HVAC failure, a contractor was hired to determine the cause and repair the system. The contractor reported that a screw inside the compressor had backed out far enough to cause the rotor to bind up, destroying the compressor."
The grand jury noted after its initial tour of the school, it "called Lindhurst High School with follow-up questions. The receptionist disconnected twice the first date and advised the grand jury that no one was available to speak to on the second date."
The school district is addressing the HVAC problem with an emergency replacement project.
June 22, 2016
By Harold Kruger