WCPS Building Upgrades Approved

NEWARK– Education officials approved building automation system upgrades for three schools at a meeting this week.

The Worcester County Board of Education voted 6-0 on Tuesday to spend $2 million in grant funding for building automation system (BAS) upgrades at Pocomoke Elementary School, Snow Hill Elementary School and Berlin Intermediate School.

“The BAS system upgrade will improve indoor air quality, save energy, improve occupant comfort and improve maintenance efficiency,” said Sam Slacum, the school system’s maintenance and operations manager.

Slacum told the school board he was seeking approval for phase one building automation system upgrades at three schools. Earlier this year, the school system received more than $6 million in Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Funding (ESSER). Slacum said $2 million of that would cover the BAS upgrades, which will be done utilizing the Omnia Partners contract awarded to Schneider Electric Inc.

School board member Todd Ferrante asked about the timeline of the project.

“We are obligated under the rules of the ESSER funds to have them completely spent and unencumbered by the end of 2024,” Slacum said. “The process will begin almost immediately should it be awarded to enact these upgrades right away. We target to have them done in about 18 months.”

Superintendent Lou Taylor stressed that the upgrades were being paid for entirely with grant funding. School board member Jon Andes asked why just three schools, Pocomoke Elementary, Snow Hill Elementary and Berlin Intermediate, were having their systems upgraded.

“In Worcester County we’re very fortunate we’ve got some new buildings but some of our older facilities don’t have fully functioning and operational building automation systems,” Slacum said.

He said the county actually had four schools that needed BAS upgrades.

“We’re taking care of three of those,” Slacum said. “Funding didn’t allow Stephen Decatur, our largest facility, to be able to be captured in this phase.”

He said that with the funds Worcester County Public Schools did have, some retrofitting would be done on buildings that had operational BAS controls to ensure they were operating at peak efficiency and were tuned optimally.

The school board voted 6-0, with Nate Passwaters absent, to approve moving forward with the $2 million BAS upgrades.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.