Minden Press-Herald

Oct 01st

Lights up at MHS

Minden High School will be exchanging its current light fixtures for new fixtures, at a cost of $9,950 plus the cost of new fixtures, in hopes the change will save money.

"We have two things killing us (financially) at Minden High and that is the (light) dimmer in the gym and the motion sensor in the cafeteria," said W.W. "Butch" Williams, Superintendent of Schools. "We feel like this will solve the problem. It is a $9,000 investment, but I promise you we will save that in a year."

According to Williams, the light fixtures and features were designed to save money, energy and space but has had the opposite effect.

"(The gym's) system was put in with a dimmer, so they could utilize those areas as a stage if needed, but those fixtures are not suitable for that purpose," Williams said. "The ballast and bulb burn out too frequently, causing those fixtures to be very expensive (to maintain).

"I don't think they can replace the bulbs as fast as the bulbs burn out," he continued. "I hate to say it but those were not the right fixtures for that system."

Lighting problems also exist in the school's cafeteria.

"Because of where the (cafeteria's light) sensor is, the lights come on every time someone walks past to go to the library," Williams said. "The light manufacturers told us that leaving the lights on all day long is cheaper and uses less energy than having them flip on and off. (Turning the lights on and off continuously) will also cause the light to burn out."

According to Williams, electrical engineers specified fixtures that are currently at Minden High when it was renovated in 2006.

"We have talked to the architect, to the electrical engineers, but no one wants to take responsibility," he said, noting the problem has caused thousands of dollars to be spent on bulb replacement.

"Replacing a bulb costs us about 800 dollars," Williams said. "We have to rent a lift for a couple of days to come in and (change the bulbs)."

Bulbs cost approximately $40 a piece and there are five bulbs in a fixture. Renting a lift costs approximately $700. There are also additional measures taken to change bulbs.

"We have to lay down plywood on the floors, so the lifts don't damage the floors," Williams said. "We have to take the doors completely off (the frames) to get the lift (through the doorway). It is just a nightmare, and we feel like (replacing the light fixtures) will solve the problem."

The plan, unanimously approved by the school board, is to purchase light fixtures that have proven to be cost effective and pay $9,950 for an electrician to install them, this time without utilizing a dimmer.

Maintenance personnel currently employed by the Webster Parish School Board are not certified to perform electrical work.

According to Williams, light fixtures placed at Phillips Middle School last summer have not had any bulbs replaced and are very cost effective. He wants to use fixtures similar to those at Phillips, when purchasing fixtures for Minden High.

"This will be a lot less expensive in the long run," Williams said. "(The fixtures) will be put in without dimmers and will create plenty of light, and will not be so costly to maintain."

The funds to pay for the new fixtures and the installment will come out of QSCB funds.

The Qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCB) are part of a federal stimulus package that began in 2009.

School boards can use the loan to fund capital improvement projects at little or no cost.

"It's important to understand that these projects are in districts who have voted in a maintenance tax," Williams said.

Districts with maintenance taxes include Minden, Springhill, Sarepta and Doyline.

According to the WPSB, Doyline has a maintenance tax but cannot use it because their district is in the process of restructuring.

QSCB funds can only be used in districts with maintenance taxes, because the funds generated from the maintenance taxes will be used to repay the QSCB loan.






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