STOW — Students at the Stow-Munroe Falls City Schools have seen cooler buildings this year, welcome with the recent heat wave, with the installation of permanent air conditioning units at six of the district’s buildings.

Guests at all nine schools also will notice the increased security measures put in place, with vestibules installed in each school building where people check in.

Robert Gress, director of operations, said the vestibules allow the schools to ensure "that no one enters the building before checking in with the school office personnel."

"We are pleased with the way they are functioning," Gress said. "Our vestibules are performing as planned and are providing the additional layer of security intended."

Superintendent Tom Bratten said J. Herbert Construction Co. in Salem built the vestibules for all nine buildings for $531,000.

"They are really proving helpful in bettering our security for our staff and students on entry," Bratten said.

The vestibules at each building will require visitors to be buzzed into an outside set of doors, and there will only be one entrance visitors can use in most cases, according to information provided by the school. After being buzzed inside, visitors will come to a window where they will be greeted or checked in. Once checked in, visitors will be given access to a second set of doors to enter the school building.

In addition, all buildings will also utilize the Raptor Visitor Management System, according to information provided by the school. This will require each guest to provide his or her photo identification, which will be scanned against all registered sex offender lists and other relevant databases before the guest is given clearance. Without a photo identification, visitors will not be allowed in any building.

The air conditioning installation for the six buildings will cost about $120,000 a year for 15 years, Bratten said. The permanent split units were installed in Fishcreek, Woodland, Echo Hills, Highland and Riverview elementaries and Lakeview Intermediate. Air conditioning is already in place for Indian Trail Elementary, Kimpton Middle School and the high school.

"This is about $10,000 more a year district-wide than we were spending on the portable air, and this supplies us with a permanent solution," Bratten said. "The company installing them is called IMAC. The portable air was removed each year in the past at the end of the hot seasons. These AC units also double as heaters for the classroom in the winter and can be used in cases where boilers or other heating options break down, thus not forcing us to cancel school in these cases."

For the past two summers, the six schools had been utilizing commercial air conditioning units with generators that were put in place outside the buildings and ran for a six-week period at the beginning of both school years. The units fed cooled air into the buildings through ductwork, which was then blown into the classrooms with the use of fans.

The approved funding will be from the School Energy Conservation Financing Program (HB 264) and from the district’s Permanent Improvement Fund, according to information from the school district. 

Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, ahelms@recordpub.com, or @AprilKHelms_RPC