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Posted: April 19, 2014 11:08 p.m.

Deal’s panel saves BOE thousands

Teachers, students and faculty in Newton County schools will soon be safer from potential carbon monoxide leaks at a cost of thousands of dollars cheaper than originally expected.

The Board of Education approved the purchase of 15 carbon monoxide sensors to be installed in 10 schools, costing $26,800, as stated in the April 2014 operations report discussed at Tuesday’s BOE work session. The sensors will be installed throughout the next few months at minimal impact to the students and school activities.

In February 2013, the BOE approved an initial purchase of $97,500 for sensors in every school and every kitchen, which included 88 locations in 24 buildings.

However, Governor Deal appointed a state-wide expert panel to make recommendations on carbon monoxide sensors in schools, postponing the purchase and installation until the recommendations were made. While several recommendations were given, a final decision was made that only gas-fired hot water heaters that have a gravity-type exhaust venting system need sensors.

Jan Loomans, director of NCSS operations services, said Governor Deal’s panel provided only a recommendation and was not a mandatory adoption, but the sensors will enhance safety at the schools where they will be installed.

The gravity-type exhaust vent, Loomans explained, has a small gap in the vent to the outside that is open to the room. Should this exhaust vent be blocked or improperly seated, carbon monoxide could escape into the area. Sensors will prevent a leak from going unnoticed.

“The chances of having any problem with the older gravity feed exhaust is very small, as long as these hot water heaters are properly maintained,” Loomans said. “We are adding the carbon monoxide sensors as a precautionary measure for the safety of the students and staff.”

Newer schools have closed combustion hot water heaters, which vent the exhaust gases into a closed exhaust system. This prevents carbon monoxide from escaping into a room.

Once all of the hot water heaters in older schools were rechecked, it was determined that the BOE will save $70,700.

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