District adopts energy plan

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 30, 2001

More than $2 million in energy conservation measures will get under way in the Austin Independent School District this summer.

Wednesday, May 30, 2001

More than $2 million in energy conservation measures will get under way in the Austin Independent School District this summer.

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Actual construction and installation will begin June 1 with completion targeted for Nov. 1, or in time for the winter heating season.

The district has applied for another loan from the Minnesota Department of Children, Families and Learning and expects to get the zero percent interest money to fund the project.

Lori Volz, director of business services, expects the district to save $500,000 in interest costs with the two CFL loans.

That, in turn, will bring a positive cash flow to the project, which anticipates having the majority of the energy conservation measures paid through energy savings.

With suppliers continuing to charge exorbitant fees to supply energy, Volz’s news at Tuesday night’s Austin Board of Education meeting was welcome.

Siemen’s Building Technologies was awarded a contract by the school board for a far-ranging list of energy conservation measures.

Among the measures is the removal of a 4-year-old boiler at Neveln Elementary School and its replacement with two boilers (one will be a backup).

Larry Andersen made the motion to approve Volz’s recommendations and Dick Lees seconded it. The measure was unanimously approved.

The school board members also approved an elementary targeted services grant application for a new program that is similar to the successful Ellis Middle School program started in 1998.

Banfield principal Candace Raskin, Neveln Principal Paul Besel, and Bonnie Erickson, representing teachers, explained the grant application and program to the school board Tuesday night. Elementary-age students who display repeated failing in school, low reading ability, low motivation and general at-risk behaviors as well as poor school attendance and discipline problems will be offered the services.

Raskin and Besel anticipate 20 to 30 students in each of the district’s four elementary schools to be enrolled in the program when it begins in August.

Raskin said low-income parents will find the 2 1/2-hour-per-day school sessions an attractive option and expects their full support.

The families will not be provided transportation services, but Besel said he does not expect that to be an issue and that parents and guardians will get their children to the classes.

Besel also said the program has the support of community agencies, including Family Connections.

Ironically, English-as-a-second-language students are not expected to comprise the majority of the targeted services classes in August. Besel and Raskin said they anticipate four or five at the most at each school.

The teachers already have been retained for the program. They will be paid according to the district’s master contract with the Austin Education Association at the summer school rate.

"I’m eager to see how this turns out," school board Chairman David Simonson said.

In other action Tuesday night, the school board:

n Approved the auction Saturday of a 1978 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale four-door sedan. The car was donated to David Bortle’s AHS automotive class by an unidentified citizen. It has been a classroom "tool" for Bortle’s students and now is ready for auction. The car can be viewed noon to 3 p.m. Saturday in the automotive shop at the high school annex, Room 4150. Enter from the parking lot on the north side of the annex.

n Approved the bid of $16,675 from Larson, Allen, Weishair & Co. to perform the school district audit for 2000-2001.

Call Lee Bonorden at 434-2232 or e-mail him at lee.bonorden@austindailyherald.com.