MORROW COUNTY, Oregon — The Morrow County School District has received approval from the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) to use $2.4 million of federal funding to upgrade and improve heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in schools throughout the district. 
The funding approved is part of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) provided to the district as part of the federal coronavirus relief package allocated through ODE. Because ventilation and circulation are an important part of improving air quality and maintaining a healthy environment, these funds can be used to upgrade HVAC systems. 
The Morrow County School District prepared a study of its HVAC systems as part of its overall long-term facility planning and found that multiple projects in Heppner, Boardman, and Irrigon qualified for the funds. These upgrades include replacing rooftop units and outdated heat pumps, testing and rebalancing airflow through current ductwork, and installing new controls to improve ventilation and monitoring. 
By updating these systems, the school district will be able to reduce energy and maintenance costs while maintaining more consistent temperatures throughout school buildings in winter and summer. 
“We all become very aware of how an HVAC system is working when the weather gets cold, and especially when the electric bills come in,” said Morrow County Superintendent Dirk Dirksen. “The Morrow County School District will be able to make substantial upgrades to our systems in our older buildings using federal dollars. This will create a better learning environment for our students while allowing us to spend less time and money keeping aged systems up and running.” 
Work will begin this year and is expected to conclude in Summer of 2022. The District will continue to address other HVAC upgrades discovered during the long-range facilities assessment that did not qualify for the grant. For more information about the ESSER funding, visit