Union Local explores energy upgrades

MORRISTOWN Schools continue to become more expensive to operate and the Union Local School District realizes to stay competitive with surrounding school districts changes need to be made. Waiting to make an impact could cause the district’s finances to go in the negative in the future and Superintendent Kirk Glasgow has no intention of seeing Union Local in that state.

Looking ahead to its future, Glasgow is exploring the options of using an innovative Energy Conservation Program known as House Bill 264 which allows districts the ability to borrow funds without having to pass a ballot issue for the authority to borrow.

“These types of programs are approved through the state of Ohio,” Ron Thomas of H.E.A.T. Total Facility Solutions, Inc. said to the crowded audience Thursday at Union Local’s administrative office. “The cost of the program would be $93,000 a year, but you would be saving almost $35,000 a year based on the markets current dollar.”

Thomas’ evaluation of the district’s properties showed the need for having a central energy management system and computer to control humidity issues. The current system in place offers limited amounts of information and has some operating issues that need addressed. Other major recommendations included installing occupancy censors for lighting and temperature control as well as replacing windows throughout the campus.

“A lot of it is that technology is changing and it’s becoming so much more efficient,” Thomas explained as the district will see a quick change from $35 light bulbs to $1.85 bulbs. “Ohio Bill 264 created this because schools don’t have the money to fix everything. They have to band aid it and keep fixing things and work with their utilities.”

“The cost against savings is a big eye opener,” Glasgow admitted. “If we stay how we are doing we will be wallowing around in the same mud with our utility problems.”

Union Local’s search for upgrading its air quality control comes after learning it had moisture issues this summer forcing the district to bring in multiple professionals to remove mold from the elementary school building.

“We do all the work ourselves making it more cost effective,” he shared. “A lot of companies use contractors and you pay layer upon layer to get a project completed.”

The energy assessment proposal now waits for board approval so it can be sent to the Ohio Schools Facility Commission for approval.

In other district business, Glasgow explained he believed elementary school students were getting home too late because of the current bus routes. Board Member Ed Stenger said some of the current routes cannot move any quicker because of the large area the district spans.

Glasgow’s solution is to begin the school day earlier at the middle school and high school levels to allow drivers an extra 15 minutes to get back to their final route of the day.

“If we would decide to do this next year we would start 15 minutes earlier,” he shared changing the current first bell from 7:45 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.

However, Glasgow’s solution was met with opposition from President Jennifer Schmitt.

“My concern is studies on high school students show that high school kids are better off starting later in the day,” she shared. “Is this going to be a good move for Union Local?”

With a lengthy discussion by board members, Glasgow received district approval to have a few trial runs this upcoming semester by letting middle school and high school out early to see how the drivers responded with the extra 15 minutes.

“Fifteen minutes makes a world of difference in a bus schedule,” Glasgow said.

In other business:

  • Board Member Allen Mann was appointed to the Ohio School Board Association Legislative Platform Committee.
  • Greg Miller was named the head boys and girls track coach for the 2008-2009 season.
  • Thursday’s meeting was the last time President Jennifer Schmitt would be presiding as president.

Cook can be reached at bcook@timesleaderonline.com