Friday, January 20, 2023

Doofus Of The Day #1,101


I'd say it's time to elect an entire new school board in a Massachusetts school district.

For nearly a year and a half, a Massachusetts high school has been lit up around the clock because the district can’t turn off the roughly 7,000 lights in the sprawling building.

The lighting system was installed at Minnechaug Regional High School when it was built over a decade ago and was intended to save money and energy. But ever since the software that runs it failed on Aug. 24, 2021, the lights in the Springfield suburbs school have been on continuously, costing taxpayers a small fortune.

“We are very much aware this is costing taxpayers a significant amount of money,” Aaron Osborne, the assistant superintendent of finance at the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District, told NBC News. “And we have been doing everything we can to get this problem solved.”

. . .

The original high school building, which dates back to 1959, was replaced with the current 248,000-square foot structure in 2012.

One of the cost-saving measures the school board insisted on was a “green lighting system” run on software installed by a company called 5th Light to control the lights in the building. The system was designed to save energy — and thus save money — by automatically adjusting the lights as needed.

But in August 2021, staffers at the school noticed that the lights were not dimming in the daytime and burning brightly through the night.

“The lighting system went into default,” said Osborne. “And the default position for the lighting system is for the lights to be on.”

There's more at the link.

So, let me get this straight.  They installed (presumably at vast expense) a new, high-tech lighting system . . . with no on or off switches in each classroom?  And no master on/off switch controlling the entire shebang?

Just how did they expect to cope with this sort of problem?  Did they plan on necromancy, calling the executed Salem witches to control it with spells?

And as for "doing everything we can to get this problem solved" . . . just how the hell does leaving it unrepaired for more than a year qualify as "doing everything we can"?  Sounds more like dereliction of duty and waste of taxpayer dollars to me!  Couldn't a local electrical contractor have simply installed a master on/off switch as a temporary measure, saving thousands of dollars in electricity?

Why have the taxpayers of that school district not run the members of their School Board out of town on a rail, complete with tar and feathers?

Yea, verily, the mind doth boggle . . .



Carteach said...

There can and probably are a bunch of reasons it's not getting fixed. The single biggest reason (Because it is a government-run school) is fear of making a decision. After many years in both public and private school settings, I'm certain of this.

Most school administrations and school boards will do NOTHING, and leave no traces behind while doing it. They will refuse to make a decision they might be held accountable for. This goes all the down to ignoring e-mails and never answering the phone. This is endemic in the public school system.

Carl Bussjaeger said...

"Couldn't a local electrical contractor have simply installed a master on/off switch as a temporary measure, saving thousands of dollars in electricity?"

It's called a "circuit breaker" in the "service panel," and the apparent lack thereof would be a fairly serious code violation in every US jurisdiction.

Rick in MT said...

Less than a minute of Internet search reveals that this is an industrial product made by Cooper Lighting and it's still in production. Getting someone to come fix it should be less than one days effort on the part of the school. Now, it might take a week or so to physically get a contractor there to do the job, but this should have been done well over a year ago.

That school board needs fired, every last one of them, and sent the bill for the additional electricity that was used due to their inability to perform one of their basic functions... MAINTAIN THE FACILITIES!

stencil said...

<< And no master on/off switch controlling the entire shebang? >>

Of course there was. But only a Morlock would know about such things, or would know how to summon other Morlocks to correct the problem.

lee n. field said...

I was going to point that Fifth Light link out.

There's folks out there that support it. Call them.

Installed in 2012, it's possible, but unlikely, that the controller is some unsupported legacy thing. I've run into that a few times, where you have to keep some tired old Win XP (or older. ISA bus, anyone?) environmental controls system running, because it costs ReallyBigBuck$ and much bother to upgrade to current.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. Suppose that most commercial properties existing in major cities all have the same or similar problems. Sure they can afford the electrical bills, but don't let them whine about finding more, as my husband calls it, "unobtainium" to solve their future energy needs.

Anonymous said...

My husband worked many years as an industrial construction electrician (schools, hospitals, office buildings, power stations, etc.) in the union. His first thought when I read the article to him is that if the system is under some kind of contract with the company that designed/installed it, a local contractor might not be able to touch it without threatening the terms of the contract. He'd run across that sort of thing on jobs now and again.

Whether or not a master switch can be added (a circuit breaker should not be used as a master switch) will depend on the design of the system and if it can't, it's astoundingly stupid, but the husband says that he and his buddies have often seen astoundingly stupid things included in blueprints by engineers who have clearly never installed anything in real life and must figure that if they can draw it, it can be built.

Anonymous said...

Have you tried turning it off, and turning it back on again?

My armchair diagnosis:
The system worked as intended until last year, when something caused a reboot to default settings.
And nobody has the access codes.

Poppop said...

@ lee n. field

So then if the controller is not current, nobody can stop the current, for any amount of currency?

There are two problems with a proposed manual master switch. One, the nomenclature makes it impossible. Two, that isn't a green solution. Somebody might forget to turn off the lights and all...

The pragmatic solution is to just schedule night classes, midnight basketball, and so forth, and forget about it. Or maybe get one of those classy artists who drape large objects to just curtain it off -- out of sight, out of mind, solved!

Poppop said...

I think that they were fated for failure...

I see that 'Minnechaug' has an interesting anagram:

" Ugh! 'Nice', man ..."

Paul, Dammit! said...

1). It's Massachusetts.
2). Springfield MA is a violent, poor, leftist-run ghetto.
3). Electricians can make 2x more in salary by driving an hour east to Worcester, or move 2 hours east near Boston and be in the 1%. A lazy electrician in Boston makes 6 figures. I'm guessing that Springfield's system may not have been installed by someone who could find employment by driving east.
4). I sure am glad I left MA and moved south to America.

B said...

Bullshit they cannot turn off the lights.

Circuit breakers work well...guarantee that they exist in the light circuits. Many breakers are not designed to be used as switches, but they WILL allow the lights to be turned off and on again. Industry does this all the time.
Someone is being stupid or just wants to get the school system to pay for a different light controller....probably for a kickback.

Anonymous said...

Software. >Everything< is run by "infallible" software. Even ON/OF switches.