Elk Lake considers energy program

BY PAT FARNELLI

Elk Lake School Board discussed signing a memorandum of understanding with Johnson Controls for a guaranteed energy savings program, but had reservations about including natural gas conversion as part of the program.

The company’s Nick Sracic had prepared a preliminary business case analysis of the energy use by the district and the Susquehanna Career and Technology Center, and included the potential savings of switching from fuel oil boilers to natural gas.

Board member Matt Curley asked, “How smart would it be to remove the natural gas conversion from this, as this has been something we have been talking about for some time?” He added, “We know that converting to natural gas will give us significant savings. How much of this do we want to give credit for, to the energy program? This is too easy for them.”

It was suggested that this part of the proposal be amended before signing the agreement.

“We don’t have to do anything,” superintendent William Bush said. “We are moving forward with gas hookups (for utility natural gas for heating).”

Board member Eric Emmerich asked if Johnson Controls was planning to do an energy audit and then give prices and proposals for changes they recommend, and Bush said yes.
No action was taken.

Bush said that he spoke with Russ Miller of Leatherstocking on May 6, and that Miller said that it “looks good for getting hooked up for next year.”

As for state approval, Miller said that the state is 100 percent behind getting schools converted to natural gas.

Curley said that an asphalt plant recently converted, and it was less than a three month process to switch to natural gas.

Emmerich asked how this will affect the fuel oil bid that was approved at the last meeting.

Business manager Kim Hollister said that an estimate was required for the budget, but the school is not obligated to use all of the fuel available through the contract.

Bush said that at the PARS conference, school district reimbursement was a discussion item. He said that none of the districts have been reimbursed at all, but that charter schools have already been paid in full for this year. He said that public schools may have to seek a legal remedy to the situation in order to get the funding that has already been promised.

Special Education director Pamela Staats said that the district’s special education plan was submitted that week, and that the second annual Life Skills Prom was a great success, with a carnival theme and Prom King and Queen chosen.

Principal Brian Mallery congratulated French teacher Host for her student Rebecca Warholic placing tenth in the nation on a National French exam.

He spoke to the school’s new alternative education program, done on site for the first time. He said that there were 10 students enrolled this year, and that one exited the program “for success reasons,” and another will be graduating.

Ken Cuomo reported that the Senior Awards Assembly awarded over $40,000 in prizes and scholarships, none of which were financial awards from colleges students plan to attend.

The board approved the appointment of Lori Evans as board secretary for Elk Lake next year, which will be a 4-year position.

Kim Hollister will continue as business manager.

Board member Arden Tewksbury told Hollister, “The school board is extremely, extremely appreciative of the work you have done for us since you took over 20 years ago.”

A property in Meshoppen will be sold at judicial tax sale on May 30. If it is not sold, it will be returned to the tax rolls.

A moment of silence was held at the start of the meeting for board member Diane Ives, whose father had passed away that day.

Two resignations were received for retirement purposes from faculty members Debbie Caines and Alicia Travor. They were approved with regret.

A letter of retirement was read for Mary Waer, effective Sept. 2, which was approved with regret. It was noted that Waer was the first lady custodian. She will have been working at the district for 15 years by that date, and works 260 days per year, rather than the customary 180 day school year.
The policy requiring students to use mesh or clear backpacks or book bags was discussed. It has not been actively enforced for some time, but is still on the books.

Alicia Traver was approved as girls’ basketball coach. Ina Braddish was approved as drama director; Rita Spila as assistant drama director; and Melanie Transue as both art director and light and sound director for the drama program.

The school board approved the use of the Board Docs program for record keeping for the school board of Elk Lake. The SCCTC board approved the Board Docs program earlier this month.

Changes were approved for several bus routes because of road construction between Elk Lake and Rush.