Denver bond money to pay for decades-old HVAC system on Montbello campus

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DENVER -- Denver voters said yes to a $628 million tax package four weeks ago to build new schools and improve existing ones.

The first of that money -- a total of $8 million -- will go to the 1,800 students at five schools on the Montbello campus to improve the schools' physical and learning environments.

The NCAS students learn film production. But they’ve also learned to dress like they’re outside, with coats and hats, when inside for class.

A space heater helps. But it’s just a Band-aid for a heating and air conditioning system that’s 36 years old.

“Certain areas of the building will be extremely hot, others will be extremely cold, at the same time. And they’ve tried to fix it year after year after year and it’s never gotten fixed,” film production teacher Dan Clarke said.

“I remember one time the classroom was too cold. We had to cancel school, so students could head home,” senior DCIS student Miguel Garcia said.

And in the summer, temperatures can climb into the mid- and upper 80s.

“We’ve gone as far as pulling portable swamp coolers to bring the temperature down,” says Bob Archuleta, a Denver Public Schools facilities operations manager.

And he says one of the rooms had a temperature reading of 58 degrees on Tuesday. But change is coming.

“I am delighted to be here to kick off the very first construction project of the 2016 bond,” DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg said.

Denver voters have not only warmed the hearts of these students, but soon their school building with an infusion of millions towards HVAC and LED lighting improvements.

“By going green, we’ll be saving green,” Boasberg said.

All told, the improvements will save the school $150,000 a year in energy and operating costs.

But teachers and students say it will also save their focus on learning.

“School has enough challenges as it is, temperatures in the classroom should not be one of them,” Clarke said.

“I am grateful the bond passed and we’ll get a new heater, and new lights. It’s awesome,” Garcia said.

Much of the remaining bond money will go to 76 other schools that don’t have air-conditioning. If all goes well, the work will begin at Montbello in May.

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