Letter

MVSD corrects inaccuracies in JCI presentation to Killington

Dear Editor,

School District administration have reviewed the paid advertisement written by former School Board Director Jim Haff running in the February 28 edition of the Mountain Times. The article includes a chart describing certain services proposed by Johnson Controls Inc (JCI) to the School District for improvements to the School District’s buildings.  

The assertions Mr. Haff makes in his advertisement do not accurately describe the expected results of those services as they pertain to decisions made by the District Board to pursue replacement of the current Middle School and High School Building. The following chart provides a breakdown of what was and was not proposed by JCI: 

Contrary to the assertions made by Mr. Haff in his advertisement, at no time did JCI claim these services would make the building meet modern building codes or extend the useful life of the building by 15-20 years. Nor could they. These assertions by Mr. Haff are contradicted by both the Vermont Agency of Education’s 2022 evaluation of the building as having a Facilities Conditions Index (depleted value) of 96.7% and the comprehensive Facilities Evaluation completed by a team of architects, engineers, and other consultants in 2017. 

Also untrue is Mr. Haff’s assertion that JCI’s proposal was ignored. In fact, the School District has completed nearly all of the work proposed by JCI for each of the district’s buildings. While Mr. Haff served as Buildings and Grounds Chair, the School District replaced the boilers at Barnard Academy, Killington Elementary School, Reading Elementary School and Prosper Valley School and completed an oil to propane burner conversion at Woodstock Elementary School. This scope had been proposed by JCI, but the district instead contracted them locally using Efficiency Vermont and federal funding at a savings of about 30% from the original prices in the JCI proposal. 

With regard to the Middle School and High School building, all proposed services have been completed except for the boiler replacement and solar panel installation. JCI was specifically contracted to install controls and valves for connecting the building to their proprietary Metasys building control system. 

The School District’s experience working with JCI has been regrettable for the following reasons:

  1. JCI has not delivered a functional Metasys building control system. The contractual completion date for this deliverable was June 24, 2022 with training to be completed on Aug. 5, 2022; 
  2. During bidding for the air exchange replacements for both RES and KES, local contractors refused to bid because they were required to work with JCI to connect the new equipment to the Metasys building management system;
  3. Due to JCI’s poor interactions with local contractors, JCI has been unable to retain a local electrical contractor for work on our school buildings. For example, the electrical contractor scheduled for work at WES on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 is from Albany, New York;
  4. The School District’s poor experience with JCI is not unique. Facility managers and business administrators in Claremont, New Hampshire, Langdon, New Hampshire, Plainfield, New Hampshire and New Market, New Hampshire have all stated that JCI has not delivered on their contracts. Based on these negative experiences, neither the Mountain Views School District nor any of these other Districts intend to contract with JCI in the future.

With regard to his experience working with JCI, MVSU Facilities Director Joe Rigoli states the following: “In my entire career, signing a contract with JCI for the energy project we are still doing was one of the worst business decisions I have ever made.

“JCI has failed miserably on delivering the only part of our energy project that could not be contracted out to a subcontractor as it is their proprietary system. This failure to deliver to us and at least four other public schools in Vermont and New Hampshire of the Johnson Controls Metasys building control system is enough for me to never do business with them again.

“Despite JCI having two technicians on Dartmouth’s campus daily, anyone from JCI working on our project travels to Woodstock from Albany, New York. We are on our fourth new to JCI technician on the Metasys building controls system since October.”

Signed,

James Fenn, business operations manager, MVSU school district

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