Elk Lake hears reports on energy, funding

Ross Kelly, right, of the Energy Education Inc. program presents a certificate of energy savings to Alice Davis, director of the Susquehanna Career and Technology Center. STAFF PHOTO/PAT FARNELLI

BY PAT FARNELLI

The Elk Lake School Board heard positive reports on the district from the Susquehanna County Community Foundation and the Energy Education Inc. during the board meeting Thursday.

Community Foundation representatives Earl Wootton and Peter Quigg reported on new funds that also are available to the district as well as local students.

Leopold Shriver, chocolatier, has created a new fund benefitting the culinary arts program at the Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center, and another donor has set up a fund for the automotive departments at the career center.

According to Wootton, the new funds will help the school district with extracurricular programs and activities. He said that a group of alumni who have graduated from Elk Lake’s class of 1958 has started a fund benefiting the district.

He said that it looks as though Cabot Oil & Gas is planning to contribute to Elk Lake’s dual enrollment program.

“I believe it will be in the best interest for the foundation, the school district, and the students if we form a partnership,” he said. “We offer support to that individual if we help them form goals.”

Energy Education Inc. noted a total energy savings up until June 2012 which amounted to $434,459, which equals a savings of 23 percent from what the expected energy costs would have been without an energy program.

The district is now 44 months into the Transformational Energy Management, according to Ross Kelly. The program is still underway at zero cost to the district.

Superintendent William Bush said that the high school has a few holdups keeping it from being energy efficient, but the program has begun there, with measurements being taken.

Tim Woolcock asked Bush if there was any statement that he could make regarding the boiler system in the high school, and how it related to the building’s energy usage.

Bush replied, “It is safe to say that it is a very antiquated system, and that is the biggest obstacle.” He said that switching to a more efficient system would greatly improve the situations, but that at this time, “it is cost prohibitive to switch.”

“It is just an old system, we are just putting band-aids on it,” he said.

Bush asked what the three biggest impacts made on Elk Lake’s energy use, and it was summed up: behavior changes by staff, faculty and students; good equipment; and electric suppliers and rates.

The Elk Lake staff, faculty, and students pay attention to lights, doors, etc. to reduce utility bills, and new employees receive a packet on responsible energy conservation practices. The district saved considerably when they changed electric suppliers to Allegheny rather than Penelec, which amounted to actual savings of more than $18,000 the first year.

Kelly called Elk Lake’s accomplishment extraordinary, and said, “You’re one of our very favorite districts, out of 1,200 in the country.”

The elementary school will be honored with a sign for its energy savings.

Board member Eric Emmerick asked if the Leatherstocking natural gas line bringing in natural gas to the Endless Mountains Health Center and other locations in Montrose will be extended to the Elk Lake campus.

Bush said that Leatherstocking is discussing the possibility with the district.

In other business, a natural gas pipeline contract was approved.

A Bognet change order for the SCCTC expansion project, as well as a list of expansion project payments, were approved.

During the visitor comment time, Jeannie Jayne several items paid in August for the project, particularly bills for furniture for the career center totaling more than $200,000.

Bush answered that the project was still within its budget.

Jayne asked what the difference was between change orders and additions, and was told that they could be almost the same.

A mobile agriculture education science lab will be coming Oct. 1-5. This event is paid for through a grant from the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and the Friends of Farming Association.

Pirone said, “Kindergarten registration will be held in November this year, so that we know the enrollment number well in advance for budgetary purposes.”

He said that the district is considering partnering with the on-campus Head Start program to provide a new pre-school program in the spring or during summer school.

An agreement with Trehab for a drug and alcohol treatment services program was approved, which now covers grades kindergarten through 12.

A program hiring student workers from the life skills program to help with school maintenance was approved.

Sue Heed said that the district enrollment now stands at 1,274.

There was a discussion on excessive food waste in the elementary school cafeteria. Now that fruit servings have been increased, canned and fresh fruits are being tossed. The consequences for not following the state regulations eliminating whole milk were also discussed.