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SCC School Board considers energy saving proposals

St. Croix Central is exploring energy efficiency measures throughout the school district.

At Monday's SCC School Board meeting, Superintendent David Bradley said the Wisconsin Energy Revenue Cap Exemption enables a public school to increase its revenue limit for energy efficiency measures or purchasing energy efficient projects, including the payment of debt service on bonds or notes issued to finance those projects.

To qualify, those projects must result in the avoidance of, or reduction in, energy or operational costs. Any bonds that are issued can not exceed 20 years. If the projects meet those criteria, the board can issue the bonds or notes without a referendum.

School Board member John Hueg questioned whether the board needs to come to an agreement with consultant McKinstry Essention prior to moving ahead.

Bradley said McKinstry will prepare a Directed Engineering Study (DES) in which all potential energy-saving projects will be fully explored. Each idea would be assigned a guaranteed maximum price, guaranteed savings and potential rebate and incentive amount.

The estimates will allow the district to make an informed decision about the final scope of the project, Bradley said. Possible savings ideas might include water conservation, lighting improvements, heating and air conditioning upgrades, roof replacements and more.

Bradley said the study, if approved, would cost an estimated $100,000 and would require the board to act at its May meeting.

Several board members questioned whether paying the $100,000 fee would obligate the district to use McKinstry and Wold Architects & Engineers throughout the project.

Hueg cautioned that it is important for all of the board's actions with regard to contracts "be transparent right up to and through the construction phase."

Bradley reminded the board that professional service contracts "do not require bids."

Hueg concluded by asking, "Who is currently on the team working with McKinstry and would it be prudent for board members to get involved at this juncture?"

Bradley invited board participation and welcomed Hueg as its first volunteer.

In other action at the meeting:

-On behalf of the board, President Howard Kruschke expressed congratulations to re-elected board members Kay Zwald and Scott De Gross.

-The board approved art teacher Kim Knutson's request for a one-year leave of absence contingent upon finding her substitute by June 15 and her notification to the board by June 15, 2013, that she intends to return to her position.

-Bradley reported the district chose to interview with Standard and Poor's to update its credit rating. The district's financial management efforts appear to have paid off with an improved Standard and Poor's AA rating.

-The board heard a report on two proposed policy changes.

One deals with a new gifted and talented program that is now mandated by the state. Students identified as gifted and talented would be given the opportunity to learn at their own high performance level within the classroom curriculum and/or through additional challenge opportunities not ordinarily provided in the regular curriculum.

A second policy shift would deal with grade acceleration for students who fare well in school. As students are evaluated for possible advancement beyond their current grade level, parents and teachers would consult on the idea. Not only academic performance would be evaluated but emotional development, maturity and physical development as well. Both policies are to be reviewed and voted on at next month's board meeting.

-The Food for Kids Backpack Program is going great and they have enough funding to guarantee the program through the end of this school year. They are currently looking to raise funds to extend the program into the 2013 school year.

-Shirley Arneson concluded her teaching and learning update with a renewed commitment to a summer reading program. District schools plan to partner with Scholastic in their "Read for the World Record" program this summer. The program is an interactive, web-based contest that invites kids to join their school team, choose their own books to read and then log their reading minutes online. Schools compete globally against other schools between May 1 and August 31 to see who can log the most minutes with the goal to be recognized by Scholastic as one of the top 20 schools in the world.