Jun 21, 2007

Fix HVAC Systems On Modular Classrooms With Emergency Repair Money Available to California Schools

Emergency Repair Program, funds available for Modular Classrooms


History: In 2000, a group of nearly 100 San Francisco County students filed a class action lawsuit against the State of California and state education agencies, including the California Department of Education (CDE), alleging that these agencies had failed to provide public school students with equal access to qualified teachers, instructional materials, and safe and decent school facilities. The Williams case, Eliezer Williams, et al., vs. State of California, et al., was settled in 2004. The state agreed to allocate millions of dollars to address the problem of securing qualified teachers and providing sufficient instructional materials. In addition, $800 million was set aside for facility improvements as overseen by the Emergency Repair Program (ERP). This means that offers for quality modular classrooms can be submitted.

Fast forward to September 29, 2006:Governor Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 607 (chapter 704, Statutes of 2006) into law, converting the $800 million facilities ERP into a grant program that will allow schools to receive funds before conducting work under the ERP. This groundbreaking statute took effect January 1, 2007, making millions of dollars immediately available to eligible schools for facility repair projects that improve school safety.

HVAC and AB607:
Among the long list of school building repairs eligible for AB607 ERP funds is heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system repair and/or replacement. This has got to be welcome news for California school administrators and school building code officials who place a high level of importance on classroom indoor air quality, comfort and acoustics. School facility managers throughout the state should be relieved to know that they can finally fix or replace those old ineffective HVAC systems at no expense to their district.

Some of the most common HVAC problems California schools encounter were detailed in the "Study on Indoor Air Quality in Portable Classrooms" conducted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the Department of Health Services (DHS). They found a great number of classrooms, both portable and conventional, that were not being properly ventilated. Some were capable of ventilating but were shut off by the teachers because they were too noisy. Others were also capable of ventilating but had been altered, in an effort to reduce energy use, to prevent any outside air circulating. Still more were identified as simply not capable of ventilating the classroom. All of these problems can lead to unhealthy indoor air quality, inadequate ventilation of classrooms according to CA Title 24 code, and poor classroom acoustics, all of which impair learning and make teaching more difficult.

AB607 ERP funds are readily available and can be applied for with a relatively simple application process can take as little as forty-eight hours from submission to approval by the state.  Compared to other state-funded maintenance programs AB607 ERP is remarkably user friendly. Therefor institutions interested in modular classrooms should have a quick look at the project at hand.

To learn more about AB607 ERP funds, please visit the web site.

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