Geothermal Project Finished before school started

(from the Rantoul Press newspaper)

By Matt Daniels

The first day of classes at Rantoul Township High School were Aug. 21.

Making sure the building was prepared and ready with a long list of summer projects completed by then was a sticking point for RTHS Superintendent Scott Amerio. The largest project involved the new geothermal heating and cooling system.

The new system will ensure that the east wing of the building, where a large majority of classes are held, has air conditioning and heating.

“It’s kind of right down to the wire,” Amerio told the RTHS board at its Aug. 13 meeting, “and there may be a few odds and ends they tweak, but for the most part, everything’s going to be done.”

Amerio said the contractors assured him the geothermal project would be complete by the time school started. On Thursday, Amerio said all the units in the classrooms are working, and were installed Aug. 15. The only part of the project left to be completed is some of the control units are being programmed and training has not taken place on that. Amerio said he anticipates training to take place this week.

“The hallways are cool,” Amerio said. “The positive impact this has for the students and staff is, to me, almost immeasurable. It is nice to walk into a classroom and have it be cool. I walked up there (Thursday), and I didn’t see kids sweating. They can just relax and concentrate on what they’re supposed to be doing.”

Each classroom has a thermostat unit, but the controls for the geothermal system are on a web-based program. Amerio said he and Tony Worthington, the district’s new director of maintenance and transportation, can control the system.

“We got Tony a laptop so let’s say if there’s an issue with a unit in one of the classrooms, he can take his laptop up there, get on the web and access the controls to see what the controls are saying,” Amerio said.

Amerio informed the board all the geothermal units on the third floor were on and working well.

“I went up there when they were testing some of them, and they do a really good job of cooling everything down,” he said. “They’re really, really quiet, too. I walked by one machine and had to put my ear up next to it to make sure it was on.”