New windows should keep school cool

Window blinds and shades couldn't solve a solar warming problem at Soda Creek Elementary School, but installing specialized windows will, Steamboat Springs School District officials said.

For years, "solar gain" has plagued the south-facing corridor in the fourth-grade wing at Soda Creek. The windows in the hallway were last replaced in the 1970s. The year-round problem causes excessive overheating in the hallway, spoils lunches and can make the school environment extremely uncomfortable, said Facilities Director Rick Denney and Superintendent Donna Howell on Tuesday.

"Teachers actually have to close the doors to their classrooms to refract the heat from coming in," Denney said. "The fix is the right kind of windows, which we'll put in this summer."

The School Board approved on Monday a request for funding window replacements. Installing new solar-cool windows will cost the district about $41,000 and will come from the district's capital reserves.

The solar cool windows have a thin mirrored coating that reflects much of the sunlight while remaining fairly transparent, Denney said. The existing windows allow most of the sunlight and heat to pass through them, creating uncomfortable zones of excessive heat in the school.

The solar gain problem isn't a new one for the elementary school. Denney said many of the school's windows were replaced in 1997 to fix the same problem elsewhere in the school. However, funding and time restrictions have kept the project from being completed in the fourth-grade hallway.

"You walk down the hallway when the sun is shining and (the heat) is unbelievable," Howell said. "It's so intense and uncomfortable. We need to do something; it doesn't provide an atmosphere conducive to learning for the students."

In the past, such funding requests wouldn't have gone before the School Board. A revision to the board's asset protection policy, however, now mandates that any request larger than $25,000 be brought before the School Board for approval. Previously, requests had to exceed $70,000 to necessitate board approval.

The School Board also asked Denney to prioritize his list of capital projects and determine where funding for each of the projects might come from. Some of the projects include designing how the school district will use land acquired from Bill Padgett, replacing asphalt and sidewalk at Strawberry Park Elementary School, constructing a new press box at the middle school and doing construction and re-roofing work at the district's central office building.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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