Written by John Elder
Temperatures reached 83 degrees in Michigan during the week of March 19, but Seaholm’s heating system is still on. Chances are, it will be for a while. To turn the air conditioning on, the heat needs to be shut off and it takes a few days to restart the system.
Thirteen days passed with temperatures above 70 degrees in March, and the heat system was on for the duration. Three of those days climbed above 80 degrees.
The air conditioning and heat are mutually exclusive systems — they cannot both be on at the same time.
“To provide cooling, the heat system must be fully shut off,” BPS Assistant Manager of Operations, Matthew Hess said. “The process required on these very large systems to fully shut them down or restart them is several days, and reversing that change is several more days.”
Prior to 1997 there was not an air conditioning system in Seaholm, and this is when the decision to put the single loop system in place. Single loop system means that it can only run one service at a time, and it must be switched to the other system, a process which takes multiple days.
With temperatures dropping back down near freezing when students are leaving for school, the heating system is necessary again.
The NOVAR management system that was installed in 1997 controls the air conditioning, and is working the way that it should. There was no answer as to when the air conditioning will be turned on, but in the past it has been switched on at or around May 1.
“Fresh air must continue to be delivered to the building at all occupied times,” Hess said. “This is a federal health mandate, so you may feel outside air – which has been unseasonably warm – being blown into the system.”
The management staff was not able to share why the single loop system was chosen – the staff that was around to make the decision has since left the district. Now, the current staff must try to deal with the system currently in place and make it comply with health standards.
“The people who made that choice have been gone from the district for many years,” Hess said “and we are tasked with managing the systems as it is.”
Locations like the library and the upstairs A hall were reported to be the worst.
Seaholm teacher Patricia Rusek said the heat was affecting her students’ ability to learn, “I can tell you right now, it did. How could it not?”
The temperatures made it hard for students to concentrate on their work, both from exhaustion, and wishful thinking of playing outside.
Senior Rebecca Rosen is taking AP physics online and does her learning in the library.
“The library was the hottest by far,” Rosen said “I was distracted by the heat, it was definitely affecting my ability to learn.”