Rubber or Epoxy Flooring
Q: Phil Graff from Mount Mansfield SD asked "In an effort to move away from VCT tile, the MMUUSD has been using Flotex carpet as one solution. We are looking for a rubber or epoxy flooring that has been working in other schools."
A: Vernon Boomhover, Franklin Northeast SU: I have been putting in a Luxury vinyl planking for about 10 years. The fact that they are no wax and look great are a great option for schools. I also have been having epoxy floors installed in bathrooms over the last summer. If you would like I can forward some photos.
A: Chris Giard, Champlain Valley SD: I am not a fan of epoxy floors. However there is a product that is a rubber base product that is poured and rolled on that I have seen used in multi purpose rooms. Danaher Flooring ((802) 492-3442) they sell and install this. The other option is the commercial Vinyl planking products. I have heard good reviews. I have yet to do it but looking into for a couple of projects. Less maintenance. Then lastly there is Marmoleum Flooring. Flobo (Flotex) makes this. We have used it in many of our current projects. So far it is lasting and is easy to maintain.
A: Dylan LaFlam, Lamoille North SU: I have used Altro Quartz tile and their LVT in a few applications. I really like it and it is as durable and maintenance free as it is good looking. The only complaint I would have is its price point. It comes in 4-6 times higher than a high quality VCT. They also have a product line called Ollero that is rubber, which I have not used.
We are also using Flotex and have been very happy with it (although it's only been a year and a half).
A: Greg Frost, Windham Central SU: I have not used a rubber or Epoxy product, but I have used Altro quartz tile and Altro sheet goods for kitchens before. The Altro sheet goods do not require finish and they are slip resistant when wet. They are great in Kitchens or Locker rooms. They are a welded seam sheet good that is waterproof and very durable depending on the grade in which you purchase. The altro quartz tile is very hard and durable, it also does not require finish, though you can choose to finish it. I have had great success with these flooring options, and by the way, yes Flotex is a wonderful product as well! We are using that all over our schools.
A: Joel Fitzgerald, Mount Abraham SD: For rubber we are using the same ole 2X2 non-slip. We have used the 2X2 no wax armstrong tile with some success that Burl. used in multi- purpose rooms. For our new front lobby and bathroom renovation we are using ceramic and flo tex. Our ceramic is no smaller than 2X2 with the lobby having 2X4 tile. We offset it with flo-tex. Come visit if you would like. I hear Winooski is very similar.
A: Ray Daigle, Harwood SD: We have been using UPO Granite(LVT) for all of our VCT replacements where we aren't installing Flotex. This has proven to be a great product with no waxing. We determined that we would save approximately $1./sq.ft./year in maintenance costs, with a payback in 5 years over installing VCT. The payback is reduced to 3 years if we include the labor savings. I don't ever tell the school board that we will save labor dollars as then they anticipate seeing a change in FTEs.
A: Cheyne Racine, Winooski SD: We, as you may know, have undergone a major construction/renovation project here at Winooski. One product we have installed in the district is a product called Nora Flooring. It is a pretty decent product and easy to maintain for the most part. The major downside we have found is that furniture being dragged on the floor can cause some imperfections and be noticeable but other than that, I don't have anything negative to say. Most rubber products will have those blemishes when items are dragged so I am not surprised.
It does however clean pretty easily with water and a red buffer pad which is helpful and not very time consuming.
A: Tim Bixby, Springfield SD: We have epoxy flooring Here at River valley tech center / Springfield H.S. We have been very happy with it and had it put into our locker rooms at our middle school as well. It is costly up front but cleans well with auto scrubbers and is not slippery. If you do the semi-skid application it will discolor after time but you can do a broadcast over it to bring it back to its original color.
A: Greg Harrington, Bennington-Rutland SU: We have been using Karndean Vinyl Plank Flooring in our schools. We are very happy with it, cleans easily. It is holding up well but we have only had it down for 3 or 4 years. We make sure it is commercial grade and has a minimum 20 mil. wear layer.
A: Joe Houston, Orleans Southwest SU: I'm not sure if it fits your needs but I used Earthwerks Highlander LVP flooring in a number of schools at Orleans Central before coming here and we were quite happy with it. I think that particular product line may have been replaced with a new one but any commercial LVP would be about the same. This particular one had a 20 year commecial wear warranty and with removal of VCT or carpet we were paying $5-$7.00 depending on complexity and whether or not we needed underlayment. One of our custodians had started using it 5-6 years ago and liked it so we deployed it in a number of other buildings both in classrooms and hallways. Custodians said it was easier to clean than VCT, and we really like that it doesn't require waxing. It's flexible so it flows over slab humps nicely and handles movement without cracking or coming unglued. One benefit to it over a sheet flooring product is that it glues down like VCT so if it gets damaged you can heat and replace individual pieces.
Q: John Curler from the Patricia Hannaford Career Center asked: "The Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center will be installing 2 EV stations as a part of the renovation project. One at each campus. The plan is for them to be either type 2 or type 3. We are leaning toward units that have a credit card swipe. Does anyone have any experience with these types of chargers and with a credit card swipe?"
A: Bruce MacIntire at Addison Central: Here is the EV charger info. I am leaning toward a level two Juice Box charger. I do have pricing from them that I will forward in a separate email.
Additional information from a forwarded email
Heat Pumps and Wood Boilers
Q: Sean Youmell from Windham Southwest SU asked: Our district is looking to update our heating sources in some of our schools. Currently we are using Oil Boilers. We are wondering what experiences other districts have had with Heat Pumps and Wood Boilers as a primary heating source?
A: Ray Daigle, Harwood SD: We installed a wood chip boiler at Harwood in 2009 for the primary heat source and have been very happy with it.
A: Danny Pickering, Kingdom East SD: I have dealt with oil, woodchips, and pellet boilers. Currently, I have all 3 in the 7 schools I oversee. From what I can see right now, the pellet seems to be the more cost-effective approach, people will say they get more heat from wood chips which is true, your upfront cost for a woodchip and its return far exceeds the timeline of pellet furnaces.
A direction I would recommend looking into are the dual boilers, which can do wood chip or pellet, and the storage for either can be a silo. They have a beautiful boiler like this in St.Johnsbury School. It's a really nice setup and allows for the two products to be used.
Patrick Campbell is the facilities coordinator there, he would be the man to talk to about a duel system.
A: Matt Brouillette, Grand Isle SU: One of my schools (Grand Isle Elementary) just transferred from wood chips to wood pellets. We used Sunwood Biomass as a contractor and Jeremiah Trombly as an engineer. We still have an oil boiler as a back up.
The project started last year with me trying to nail down with the school board the type of heat source they wanted for the school, as we had a wood chip system (which was broken and cost $150,000 to repair) they wanted to go with another renewable energy source. I narrowed the search down to Pellets, working with Efficiency Vermont (who provided approx $35000 in incentives). Between EVT and My engineer they got us three bids from three contractors, Sunwood was definitely the choice to go with and have been absolutely wonderful to work with.
Construction/Demo started around the second week of July and we are up and running with the new pellet boilers providing heat the first week of October. We also upgraded our controls with TCV during the project. The biggest issue we had was getting the actual boilers from Germany, we ended up going with a completely different boiler type and company than we originally planned on due to supply chain issues. We installed four OkeFen Pellet Boilers which heat the 45000 square foot school without issue, the system is easy to use and I can run the boilers through the Webcontrol or through an app on my phone, checking the status when I am not at the school, it's actually easier to use the app than webcontrol.
The system does require maintenance but only every 500-1000 hours (I honestly might be off on this as I am not near the paperwork right this second) and Sunwood can come back and do it. The boilers need to have their ash buckets cleaned out every week. I have done it since we turned it on and honestly they are not even 10% full as they run so efficiently.
We had to install a 35 Ton Pellet silo in order to store the pellets. It is 12' wide and 28.5' feet tall, so it is a large item to install, we had to have a pad poured for it to sit on, it took 3 days for that to be constructed. I ordered pellets from Bourdeau Brothers in Sheldon, VT ((802) 933-4581 ask Will Manahan for pricing). It is about $300 per ton with a $5 fuel surcharge per ton delivered. The pellets are good quality and I have only had one issue where there was a large chunk of wood from the processor which blocked the vacuum hose, it was a 5 minute fix.
Total cost was around $250,000. I was able to get a grant which covered approx 90% of the costs with the build so the school board was really on board for the project. We were awarded the grant through The Vermont Department of Public Service, my contact with them is Christopher Heine (firstname.lastname@example.org) the grant we received was specifically a high poverty level HVAC grant, I know he has just emailed out another HVAC Grant opportunity for renewable specifically.
My contractor was David Frank at Sunwood Biomass https://www.sunwoodsystems.com/wood-pellet-boiler-dealer-installer.
His phone number is 802 279 7900.
Our Engineer was Jerimiah Trombley from True Engineering of VT.
His number was 802 316 9120.
If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me at this email address or my phone number 802 393 7183.
If you want to come up and look at the system you are more than welcome to come take a look and see for yourself
A: Phil Graff, Mount Mansfield SD: We currently have three Wood Chip systems running. We have two ChipTec systems at the Middle Schools and a Messersmith at the High School. They were all installed in 1996 and have been running well.
I can tell you that wood chip systems require more maintenance. There are conveyor systems and augers to feed chips to the system. I also punch tubes twice a year to maintain efficiency. I do love the heat they produce and the
maintenance is not overwhelming.
I also have a Multi City heat pump working at one of the schools. This has also worked well and I like the balance it provides with heating and cooling. We still maintain a gas boiler to assist with the heat during colder days.
I have just started looking at pellet boilers for a small elementary school.Hope this helps. You are welcome to come and visit the sites and see them operate.
A: Jonathan Gartwaite, Hartford SD: We currently have oil fired boilers, heat pumps, and a wood chip boiler. We are looking at long term options for conversions. I've looked into propane, alternative biofuels, and additional heat pumps. I'd be happy to talk through the pros and cons associated with each of these options.
Roadside Information Signs
Q: Jason Butler from Missisquoi Valley SD asks, "Our high school is looking to upgrade our roadside information board to a 2 sided high resolution LED display. We are looking for different vendors that other schools or districts have used and how their experience with that vendor was?"
A: Matt Brouillette, Grand Isle SU: Grand Isle Elementary put a new one in three years ago we used DC Energy out of N Hero they have been great and continue to work with us on almost all our electrical stuff in the district.
A: Dylan LaFlam, Lamoille North SD:
I brought one of these to the board in 2019. Unfortunately, they decided to not move forward with the project. I really like Dacktronics and find that Deb from Vermont Display's is great to work with (they have done all my score board work for years across several districts). I attached the quote that I received in 2019 for reference
A: Jamie Evans, Barre Unified Union SD: I'm with the BUUSD in Barre, Vermont. We installed an electronic message board a few years back at Spaulding High School and had to jump through many hoops! The biggest hurdle was with the city ordinance board. They have specific language on what is allowed for signage in the city limits.....size, type, illuminated, electronic, etc.. We finally received approval to install an illuminated, electronic message board, with a few limitations.
We used Vermont Display out of North Ferrisburgh, VT. Deb Rehbein Hollwedel, 802-453-5156. They were great to work with. As an FYI, they also install/service scoreboards as well.
ALICE vs Run Hide Fight
Q: Currently the state is pushing the Run Hide Fight approach in schools and recommending they use this approach. If that is the case is the ALICE training and program a necessary tool we have to maintain in the districts or can we take on the RUN HIDE FIGHT and drop the ALICE Training?
A: From Rob Evans, State School Safety Liaison: The option for active shooter response the school/district chooses is up to them… Both ALICE and RHF are good options… they just need to have/teach an options based approach.
Sample Playground RFP
Q: Theresa Palagonia from North Country SU is looking for a sample RFP - they have a school replacing the main playground structure.
A: Gregory Harrison, Bennington-Rutland SU: I found this older one from Manchester Elementary School. I did not write it but may help. (No access to Doc)
A: Greg Frost, Windham Central SU: I wrote one last year. What I did was, we knew what we wanted, so I wrote the spec to that. I just used the pipe size, # of occupants, how many swings etc. so that way I knew I’d end up with similar play structure options, with similar build quality. Windham Elementary School Playground RFP
Sample Handicapped Van RFP
Q: Theresa Palagonia, North Country SU is looking for a sample RFP: One of our schools needs to purchase a handicap accessible van to transport a student to and from school. The van is over the $40,000 threshold to go out to bid. I am looking for an RFP that I could use as a template for this.
Caring for Athletic Fields
Q: Jason Butler, Missisquoi Valley School District asks: We are looking for information from other schools (likely high schools) that have large areas in relation to the athletic fields. We have multiple baseball, softball, soccer, and field hockey fields covering many acres. How do other schools utilize their personnel to manage the athletic fields? Do schools have a primary outside grounds guy or grounds crew to manage school grounds and athletics fields? Does the athletic director take care of field work or have staff under them to take care of field set up and lining before games?
A: Jamie Evans, Barre Unified Union SD: Spaulding High School has two groundskeeper positions that maintain all of our grounds and ballfields. We mow, line stripe all of the sports fields, set up and tear down for ball games as well as year round grounds maintenance. The groundskeeping crew works collaboratively with the athletic director with the setting up for practices and games. The maintenance dept budget is responsible for the grounds equipment, in regards to purchasing and maintaining.
A: Jonathan Garthwaite, Hartford School District: We do not do any of our grounds work in house. All of it is subcontracted. Prior to last spring (full disclosure: I have only been here for about 18 months) we had one contractor, that specializes in athletic field maintenance, doing all of our grounds work. It was not a great fit as there was a feeling that the athletic facilities were being neglected in favor of general landscaping and vice versa. I split the contract and wrote separate specification/RFP documents for each area, put both out to bed and now have two contractors doing what they are good at. There were a few bumps in the beginning getting them to "play nice" where their areas of responsibility are adjacent but, after some initial clarifications, it has worked well.
Athletic Field maintenance is a fairly specialized activity with unique equipment and procedures. Plus, having folks who don't do it every day had apparently led to some variations that were problematic for competitive play. It has also been nice to be able to call our general grounds contractor to respond to an immediate need without negatively impacting support of athletic programs.
A: Ray Daigle, Harwood Unified Union SD: We have a dedicated grounds person at Harwood Union High School. During the winter he maintains the equipment, works on the snow removal team, and helps out on projects in the building.
A: George Trieb, Colchester SD: We have 5 schools that all have some sort of athletics fields. Our two K-2 schools have small baseball/softball and soccer fields. Our middle school and 3-5 schools have fields used for FH, soccer and lacrosse as well as dedicated baseball and softball fields and then as you can imagine our high school has many fields. We have our own maintenance group that is responsible for all buildings and fields. Field maintenance includes mowing, WW, handling any damaged or beaten down areas (think end of football season for example). We paint all of our sports fields and install and uninstall all of the toys that go with certain sports (batting cages, goals, various nets and netting, etc.). We groom the infields for the high school baseball and softball fields as well.
A: Gary Scott, Essex Westford SD: Essex Westford has about 400 acres of land and we use a mix of vendors and in-house staff to maintain all of the properties.
The high school and the 3 middle school athletics are handled by my department. We work very closely with all 4 athletic directors, but the HS requires the most attention.
All field line painting is handled internally. 3 different town rec dept. occasionally paint to meet their needs. Mowing at the HS is internally, two of the middle schools have vendor contracts.
I have one head grounds person that is responsible for the overall athletic plan and then he is supplemented with an additional 3-4 property services staff. We do hire seasonal staff to assist with mowing all summer.
A: Danny Pickering, Kingdome East SD: A school with many acres of fields from my experience would normally have mowing put out to contract because it takes forever and the fields have to be a specific height along with trying not to burn them.
Going off what you mention, it would be handy to have 1 or 2 grounds personnel, especially for line marking fields and taking care of them besides the mowing.
If you are able to work in 2 or 1 position maybe the fields could be split and have that one staff member mow some of the fields and contract the rest out.
The big thing is making sure whoever is contracted for the mowing and whoever is going to do the lining all know the athletic rules of how high the grass is and also the measurements of the field markings. (athletic director should be able to supply this information).
A: Mark Dunbar, North Country SU: I have one man who works as a Grounds/Custodian. When necessary, (often), I pull one or two other custodians to aid him in mowing and snow removal, Spring cleanup, etc.
Some of our athletic fields are put out to bid for mowing and some we do in house, as we can not maintain staffing enough to do all the outside work. We have had the benefit of a good outside contractor who is attentive to our needs in getting athletic fields mowed, to spec. in a timely manner. We also work with a Landscape Company who provides us with consulting expertise and grounds care supplies. We do all the lining for games. We put most of our large parking lots out to bid for snow removal, but have a large amount of sidewalk area which we clear ourselves.
Without outside help, we would require more staffing and more equipment.
We are chronically understaffed, as is everyone else, and I don't foresee a change there. If I were to lose my current grounds person, I would be in a pickle! I'd have to rely on reliable contract labor. I do think you need one person on staff wholly dedicated to grounds for continuity's sake.
Timing is everything during our sports seasons. If you go with a private contractor, you need to build a relationship where they'll be able to meet your needs in a timely manner. Communication is everything. You're also working with a competitive public who wants their games to go off without a hitch out of school pride.
As Manager of Facilities and Grounds, I do work closely with the Athletic Director on field maintenance. Maintenance tends to go through my office. Major renovations and repairs often go through his office. Facilities supports the Athletic Department. We are the primary grounds staff for Athletics. Athletics also receives some Coach and Parent volunteer work.
I'm afraid we don't have a black and white approach. It would be ideal to have all the staff and equipment to do our work in house, but that seems costly and impractical in our situation.
Q: Beth Cole, Rutland Northeast SU needs HVAC recommendations, Rutland Northeast has five schools that need HVAC systems installed over the summer.
A: Dylan LaFlam, Lamoille North SD: I assume that you are working with an engineer to help specify systems and equipment, they should be able to help with bids and vendors as well. I am also assuming you will be looking at equipment and control packages. A couple of companies I have worked with over the years that do both controls and equipment are Control Technologies Inc. and Alliance Mechanical
If you are just looking for equipment install I have had success with A Cooper Mechanical, Peak Mechanical and VHV.
A: Danny Pickering, Kingdom East SD: One very good company is Mountain Air Systems. Three more you could try are Vermont Mechanical and Alliance Mechanical, Merrill Mechanical.
A: Joe Houston, Orleans Southwest SU: I've had good luck with both Vermont Mechanical and Alliance Group in the two districts I have been working in.
A: Greg Frost, Windham Central SU: HVAC companies I know of are Control Tech, Alliance Mechanical, ARC Mechanical. These are the larger firms I have dealt with or seen do work in my area of the state. I know both Control Tech and Alliance have offices in Rutland. But they are very busy as well. Unfortunately there are not enough vendors in the state to perform the work load that is out there. I assume you are pushing to use grant funds. Hopefully extensions are offered for just this reason.
Matt Johnson at email@example.com is my contact for Alliance.
I have worked with Keven Austin from Control Technologies. I have not worked with him in a couple of years, so I cannot verify he is still there. But his number is 802-318-0443