In mid-June, Riverside-Brookfield High School officials held a meeting with representatives from all the companies involved in building and installing the boilers at the school to try and figure out why the boilers are still are not working properly.
“They’re working on rewiring the dampers to try and improve efficiency, and to work out some of the problems at no cost to the district,” said District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis. “The way those high-efficiency boilers are designed, they should be able to self-fire and shut down automatically, and right now we have to manually start them and they’re probably running longer than what they probably should.”
Apparently the boilers have not been turning on and off automatically as they were designed to do so ever since they were installed.
Numerous fixes have been tried already, including replacing the regulators. School board members are getting frustrated with the inability to fix the problem.
“We’ve got dampers that were never put on there and they had to replace the regulators on the gas supply, because they were not correct, and that’s all been done in the last six months,” said board member Tim Walsh, who serves on the board’s facility advisory committee. “We’ve paid good money for this and it doesn’t work right. You got to make it work right.”
At a school board meeting in May, Walsh praised RBHS’ new facilities director, Joel Hatje, for demanding that the contractors fix the problems with the boilers.
“Joel is really on top of it,” Walsh said. “He’s very knowledgeable. They wanted to point fingers at the school and the school district about how we managed and created the problem. He wasn’t taking any of that.”
According to Walsh, Hatje told the contractors that their equipment wasn’t working properly.
Odors from a vent stack at the high school have also been a continuing problem.
Workers capped a short stack pipe that was uncapped, which helped but apparently did not completely fix the problem.
“They were still getting some odor, not as strong, but they were still getting some odor in one special education classroom near the office,” Skinkis told the school board.
School board member John Keen also praised Hatje.
“He’s a lot more on top of things than our previous supervisor,” Keen said.
Former school board President Jim Marciniak, who decided not to run for re-election last year, said that he is tired of hearing board members complain about problems.
“From my restored outside view here, all I’m seeing is a board that likes endlessly milking this issue instead of fixing it,” Marciniak said. “None of this equipment is exotic. All of this stuff is tried and true, proven. Look at what we’re talking about – boilers, fans, pumps. This stuff is not rocket science. You fix it and get on with life. But fixing things and getting on with life is not what this board is about.”