Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Board Of Education Looking At Solar Power Option For District Buildings

The Stow-Munroe Falls School District is looking at potential savings generated by solar energy.
Mariana Silva David Dwyer, an energy engineer for
Solar Planet, a solar power company, tells Stow-Munroe
Falls Board of Education members and the audience
about the benefits of solar power during a Board meeting

During a Board of Education meeting on Aug. 13, David Dwyer and former Republican Ohio Sen. Kevin Coughlin, told Board members how they can make a $20 million solar power system project happen at almost no cost to the district.

Dwyer and Coughlin, representing Solar Planet, a two-year-old company focusing on installing solar power for schools and public organizations with the goal of cutting their energy costs, told the Board and the audience that the company can virtually fund the entire project if the district agrees to a 25-year contract.

Dwyer, an energy engineer for Solar Planet, said the company has funds to cover the costs of operation, maintenance and design of the solar power system, and can also provide the school district with the capital to build it.

The presenters said district would basically have to pay for the costs of the contract which will likely be close to $3,000 and that the project could save as much as $8 million during the term of the contract.

"But there is no such a thing as a free lunch," Dwyer said.

Solar Power, which was created by the owner of the Columbus-based chain Charley's Grilled Subs, Charley Shin, would also benefit from the deal.

Coughlin explained that in exchange for paying for virtually all costs associated with the solar power system, Solar Power would get to collect benefits such as generating clean energy credits, which can be purchased by companies that are not meeting minimum mandates for renewable energy. The company also gets to collect tax credits.

The district would also have to agree to buy solar energy for the next 25 years and if Board members like the deal, Coughlin and Dwyer said they recommend they decide before Sept. 15. After that, the company cannot guarantee the same benefits to the district.

"Solar is great, I don't have a problem with it, we are going to have to go solar in the future [...] but there are other companies out there," said Board of Education member Rod Armstrong.

"I think before we commit to anything, one of the things we need to do, as a Board, [...] we should go out there and look at other companies."

Armstrong added Solar Planet is a young company and that he read about other companies out there with more years of experience in the area.

"I would invite you to please look up the competition [...]," Coughlin said. "We just had this discussion with a school the other day. They were told by their Board 'go find the competition,' they got a lot of disconnected phone numbers, they got no return calls. There is no one that can do that."

Also during the meeting, Director of Academic Achievement Karen Moore, and Director of Special Services Dr. Marty Saternow gave the Board presentations about federal grant updates, which show the district will likely be receiving less federal grants this school year.


During the meeting the Board also approved:

* The approval of the superintendent's personnel recommendations including employments, resignations, recall from reduction in force, 2012-13 school year supplementals, certified and classified substitutes and a transfer;

* The Board approved a list of home instruction tutors for the 2012-13 school year;

* The Board approved game help for the 2012-13 school year;

* The Board approved a cooperating teacher stipend for two teachers who complete the student teaching mentoring program in connection with The University of Akron;

* The Board approved a contract with Harbor Education Services to provide special education services in their LEAP program during the 2012-13 school year as recommended by the company's Individualized Education Program (IEP) team for five students;

* A waiver for the requirements set by the Ohio Revised Code that each student enrolled in kindergarten, third grade, fifth grade and ninth grade to be screened for body mass index and weight status category before the first day of May of the school year;

* A lease agreement with Central States Management for donation bins to be located at Echo Hills, Fishcreek, Riverview and Woodland elementary, Lakeview Intermediate, Kimpton Middle and Stow-Munroe Falls High schools;

* A change order for Tallmadge Asphalt and Paving Co. changing the original contract sum of $201,000 to $258,410;

* An extended field trip to the girls' varsity volleyball team to travel to Dublin to participate in a volleyball scrimmage.

Next Board meeting is at 7 p.m. on Aug. 27 at the Stow-Munroe Falls High School library. Some of the items expected to be discussed are the minutes, financial report and check register for June and July, a permanent appropriation resolution, energy education and a donation.


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