Education, Local News

Flossmoor schools spend $94k on new AC units

The Flossmoor School District 161 board voted 6-1 to purchase four Trane brand rooftop air conditioning units at its Feb. 20 meeting. Board member David Linnear cast the sole dissenting vote.

Associate superintendent Fran LaBella said the administration’s recommendation was to buy the Trane units, after analyzing three bids. 

One bid, from the Daikin company, was over budget and dismissed. 

York brand units came in at the lowest price, $80,600 for four units, with a one-year warranty that covers parts.

The Trane units are more expensive, at $94,600 total. Trane provides a one-year warranty covering parts and labor, and another three-year parts warranty. 

Normally school districts must choose the lowest-priced bid. District 161 works through a purchasing cooperative that pre-vets bids, allowing the district to choose. 

In both York and Trane bids, the equipment had extensive lead times for delivery, about six months. Once delivered, the AC units will be installed at Flossmoor Hills, Serena Hills, Western Avenue and Normandy Villa schools.

LaBella said both the Trane and York bids came in under the district’s projected $97,000 budget. The warranties offered by Trane were a motivating factor for the district’s recommendation.

“Couple that with the fact that we already have Trane equipment here, so the (Buildings and Grounds) team have already been working with that equipment. They have some experience with it,” she said.

Scott Stachacz, director of Buildings and Grounds, said he and his staff rely on Trane’s automated systems to have a detailed level of control of the heating and cooling systems. They can remotely adjust the temperature for different building needs, including for extreme weather.

Board member David Linnear asked whether the York units have remote control ability, and Stachacz said they do. 

Linnear said he didn’t see enough advantages in having Trane equipment to justify such additional spending.

“When it comes to a $14,000 difference and the units are similar, and there’s a one week difference between delivery times, I definitely don’t see that there’s that much of a trade-off between York and Trane,” Linnear said.

Superintendent Dana Smith said compatibility was a significant factor in the administration recommending Trane. He compared it to having a school vehicle fleet with some Chevrolets and some Fords. Purchasing the Trane units provides coherence with the district’s other AC units, Smith said, and means there’s only one interface to use, rather than two.

“I understand the difference in the cost,” Smith said. “Our thinking is that we’ll pay just under what we budgeted, and the alignment not only in repair, but to have more efficient remote management of them, makes a difference.”

Board member David Linnear voted no, and all other members voted yes, and the item passed.

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