School board trying to lower energy cost

Image: Six graders present program about what they area learning in reading, math, science and social studies at school board meeting.

Six graders present program about what they area learning in reading, math, science and social studies at school board meeting. (Alysa Kirton)

The Italy School Board of Trustees voted to enter into an agreement with Lockridge-Priest for an Alerton Control System for the dome at its monthly meeting Monday night.

Barry Bassett, superintendent, said the energy bill continues to be a top priority for school board member discussion. He said the board has been discussing the dome’s high energy costs for the last several months.

Roger Chase, with Lockridge-Priest, addressed school board members regarding the heating and air conditioning system.

Chase said one of the issues is the outdated HV/AC system that is 10-12 years and was poorly installed. He said the unit is running basically 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He said the failure of the CO2 system causes the unit to fully open letting in exterior heat or cold. This CO2 sensor needs to be replaced or repaired.

Basically, he said a sensor on the wall, in place of a thermostat, can be controlled from a computer or telephone anywhere in the United States.

The cost to add this system is $18,800 which includes the program installation, software, programming and training. Chase said they should expect to see about a 25% savings which should pay for itself within a year or two.

Chase said this is basically a “building block” that would allow additional wall sensors on HV/AC units to be added at the other gym or the school buildings. He said the additions, such as the high school, would not cost as much since the initial software program has been purchased.

Chase said he has installed these systems in more than 90 school districts in Texas and said it can be as advanced as having alarms on walk-in freezers or irrigation systems should there by a malfunction. This bid, he said, is a starter program which can be built upon through the years.

Tammie Gillespie, business manager, said the school district she came from had this system and saw significant savings.

The motion was approved by board members with a nay vote from Curtis Riddle.

Kevin Witte, technology director, also discussed E-Rate, a program providing school discounts for telecommunications and internet connections.

Witte said he needs to revamp the school’s computer network accessibility and reliability.

He said this project, estimated to cost $77,000, will allow more computers online without having the system crash. This cost covers upgrading at both campuses. He said it will replace malfunctioning “drops” and will add additional ones.

Witte said he hopes to get the bulk of the project done over the Christmas break and noted that it must be completed by early February in order to get 80% of the funding returned through the E-rate program.

The trustees also approved revised local policy updates.

One of the updates includes the addition of counting electives toward class ranking. The exclusions would be physical education, athletics and band. This is for freshmen and those entering high school thereafter. Students who are sophomores and above will continue with the core class grades being counted toward the student’s class rank.

The trustees also approved the donation of $10,415 from Mark Stiles and Marty Haight covering the cost for dual credit classes for the fall semester. 

The board meeting started with several sixth grade students making a presentation about classes their classes with teachers Kristi Holley, Susan Jacinto and Debra Prowell. Students were Kirby Nelson, Noeli Garcia, Lorena Rodriguez, Clay Riddle, Paige Cunningham, Maegan Connor, Jenna Holden, Harleigh Carter, Peter Johnson, Marlen Hernandez, Hunter Morgan and Annie Perry.

Students made presentations in reading, math, science and social studies.

The board also approved minutes of the October meeting, the financial report, utility report, check register, monthly investment and cash position report and tax collections.

Enrollment, as of Nov. 14 is 566 with refined average daily attendance at 530 students or 96.82%.

Lee Joffre, high school principal, said they do have a truancy policy in place and have turned a couple of students over to authorities for truancy.

Due to the Christmas break, the board will hold its next meeting on Thursday, Dec. 8. A webinar training seminar will begin at noon with a regular meeting to follow at 1:30 p.m. in the administration office.