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Cost estimates for summer projects on schools under budget so far

Estimates for projects planned for both middle schools and all five elementary schools in Farmington this summer are $333,071 under budget so far, said Jane Houska, director of finance. That could all change when the bids come in, she added.

The Farmington Area School District has allocated about $8.1 million from the $45.3 million in building bonds approved by voters in 2015 to repave five school parking lots, install fire alarms, replace a cooling tower, build secure entrances and replace windows.

Hallberg Engineering estimates it could cost up to $450,000 to replace the existing cooling tower and pumps at Akin Elementary School, as well as install emergency lighting.

The same firm will replace existing fire alarms at Dodge Middle and Riverview Elementary schools for an estimated $320,000.

"These electronics are 20 years old. They are hard to maintain," said Timothy Rabbits, executive vice president of Hallberg.

Wold Architects and Engineers estimate it will cost about $3 million to repave Boeckman and Dodge middle schools and North Trail and Riverview elementary schools. Boeckman will get a two-inch mill and overlay, while the other schools will have four inches of the parking lot surface replaced.

"Everything will look like brand new asphalt," said Angela Otteson, representing Wold.

Akin Elementary will get a secure entrance, moving the existing office up to the front of the building, and will gain 2,470 square feet of extra kindergarten space for an estimated $1.7 million.

Farmington Elementary will get new windows for about $460,000. The school will also get about 2,493 square feet of extra kindergarten space and a secure entrance for about $1.2 million.

Meadowview Elementary will get a secure entrance. Wold designs show the music, art and band room is being switched with the existing office space to build the new entrance. Cost estimates are $517,057.

All projects are expected to be done by the end of August 2017, with the exception of the kindergarten rooms, which will not be done until mid October.

A solar panel project, separate from the referendum projects, had been expected to be completed by September. However, this project won't be finished until April, Houska said.

In July the school board approved a contract with Edina-based Sundial Solar Energy to put solar panels on Boeckman and Dodge middle schools and Riverview and Farmington elementary schools that could save the district $74,250 in energy costs after expenses in the first year.

Houska said the panels should be installed by the end of April, but not necessarily connected to the grid. That won't happen until the state finishes its inspections.

The school district doesn't pay anything for the installation. Instead, Florida-based Kenyon Energy is the district's investor.

The investor makes money in two ways. First, by cashing in on state tax credits. As part of a state omnibus energy bill passed in 2013, Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy, the state's largest utility, is required to administer a community solar garden program, which it started in 2014.

Through 2019, investors get a 30 percent tax credit, a savings that developers can pass on to their subscribers.

Investors also make money by charging the district for electricity, but at a reduced price compared to Xcel Energy.