The Lincoln Board of Education on Tuesday approved spending $1.1 million on equipment for Southeast, North Star and Southwest high schools to make the geothermal heating and cooling systems at those schools more efficient.

District officials said the efficiency of the systems at those high schools has diminished because ground temperature in the wells is heating up. That's happening because the buildings are being used more than anticipated, especially in the summer, said Operations Director Scott Wieskamp.

Geothermal uses relatively stable ground temperatures to heat and cool water as it's circulated through pipes to the systems that regulate temperatures in the building.

The equipment that will be put on the school roofs will cool the water before it goes back into the ground and help cool the ground temperature. The equipment will last 20-25 years, he said.

At that point, the district could consider increasing the size of the wells. Nearly all the district’s schools have geothermal systems and no other buildings have had similar problems.

They’ve made adjustments in new designs.

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Wieskamp said he doesn’t anticipate problems with other buildings, because the issues stem from the buildings being used more than anticipated. He said he can’t see that happening with elementary or middle schools unless there was a significant change, such as going to year-round school.

In other business, the school board approved the sale of about eight acres of land near Kooser Elementary School in northwest Lincoln.

The district bought a 40-acre plot in 1998 and built Kooser on a portion of it.

The remaining acres have been platted for residential lots, though they haven’t yet had infrastructure improvements added. The district sold 4.36 acres to the west of the school for $36,842 per acre, or about $160,000, to developer Steve Champoux. It sold 4.15 acres to the south of the school for $47,848 an acre, or about $198,000, to developer Bob Benes.

The difference in price is based on how close the lots are to existing infrastructure, district officials said. The income will be put in the district’s nonrestricted building fund to be used for other land purchases.

The district still owns six or seven acres of undeveloped land around Kooser that it will likely sell.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7226 or mreist@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSreist.


Education reporter

Margaret Reist is a Lincoln native, the mom of three high school graduates now navigating college and an education junkie who covers students, teachers and policymakers inside and outside the K-12 classroom.

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