Wyo4News Staff, [email protected]
ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING — In a release both through the Sweetwater County School District #1 Facebook Page and ParentSquare, Kelly McGovern, Superintendent for Sweetwater County School District #1, released the following statement regarding the need for a new high school and the temperatures within the current Rock Springs High School.
“As a community, we need a full replacement school for Rock Springs High School (RSHS). Sweetwater County School District Number One has been working to build the new RSHS onto the Satellite High School Campus since 2008 when the land was obtained from the Bureau of Land Management. The community’s recent concerns about high temperatures inside the building are just one of the reasons why a replacement school is needed.
RSHS was designed in the late 1960s and built in 1970 with an old-style indirect evaporative cooling system. The cooling system design was abandoned over 40 years ago. The current infrastructure cannot support a modern air-conditioning system large enough to cool all of RSHS. The current facility is approximately 325,000 square feet.
This is but one of the many concerns with a facility built 53 years ago, in addition to plumbing, electrical, parking, and location restrictions to name but a few. The Board of Trustees, the Superintendent, the Facilities Director, and the Administration have pursued state action to build a replacement high school for many years and will continue to do so. Construction of schools within the State of Wyoming is controlled by a school facilities commission which makes recommendations for funding through appropriations by the legislature. The District needs your help in rallying together to address the need for a full replacement high school.
Mark your calendars to attend one of the following informational meetings:
- Monday, October 9, 2023 @ 6:00 p.m. – Board of Education Meeting (in-person or online)
- Thursday, October 19, 2023 @ 5:00 p.m. in RSHS Cafeteria (in-person)
- November 8, 2023 @ 4:15 p.m. – Strategic Planning Meeting in RSHS Cafeteria (in-person)
So, what about the temperature problems? Over the last several years, Sweetwater #1 has taken multiple action steps to support RSHS students and staff to address the temperature concerns within the school. These include:
- Installation of massive evaporative coolers in place of the old indirect coolers in areas constructed in 1971, 1975, 1977, 1981, and 1984.
- Four more coolers are on order. Due to supply chain issues and contractor availability, the project is scheduled to be completed by November. We understand the delay and the change of seasons but despite our best efforts, this is out of the District’s control.
- The District hired an independent engineering group to assess RSHS and estimates for upgrading. This report confirms the previous state-driven reports which all identified the current building infrastructure is in fair to poor condition. While students and teachers are safe in RSHS, the infrastructure is nearing the end of its life cycle despite multiple efforts to replace and upgrade as needed.
- In 2015, upgrades were made to the existing evaporative coolers.
- In March 2017, upgrades were made to the main air handling units.
- In June 2019, pneumatic controls were upgraded with direct digital controls in the auditorium. Prior to 2014, two air conditioning units were disabled. Only one of the units had enough power to run. A complete building electrical service is required to get this functioning.
- In October 2019 a compressor was replaced in the AC unit in the lower-level rooms of the school adjacent to the garage.
- In September 2020, new filtration systems were installed throughout the RSHS.
- In July 2021, an upgraded motor and vent values with three controls were installed in the auxiliary gym air handling unit.
- In April 2022, two boilers were replaced behind the Tiger Arena Gym.
- In June 2022, the existing air conditioning unit was replaced in rooms 410/414.
- In September 2022, an assessment of the existing air conditioning units in the auditorium was conducted. The second air conditioning unit in the auditorium was deemed non-salvageable.
- In September 2023, another boiler was replaced.
- From July 2014 to the current date, countless circulation pumps, and compressors for the pneumatic controls or lighting upgrades were completed to reduce some of the existing electrical loads.
- In August 2023, three elevators are in the process of being replaced with new elevators.
This list does not include the electrical panels that have been replaced due to electrical fires and electrical wiring issues caused by excessive age and amperage. Nor does it include items like rebuilding restrooms due to the sewer line cracking because of age. The multiple repairs and upgrades that were necessary to maintain the competition-level swimming pool at RSHS and many other maintenance projects such as roofing.
In all, countless items have been repaired, replaced, or added to support the education of our students and the working conditions of our staff.
As you can see, the District continues to remedy, renovate, and retrofit the existing spaces to fit current needs. However, the inherent limitations of the neighborhood site, the age of the infrastructure, and the costs for maintenance and constant renovation vs. replacement all point to the need to actively continue advancing down the required path to a needed replacement for RSHS.