2/16/2017 1:01:00 PM North Branch energy rehab projects moving right along, school board is advised
Joan Audette and Kristin Mayne were special guests at last week’s North Branch School Board meeting where their willingness to take on extra tasks and do things behind the scenes were recognized by the Board.
When spring break arrives at North Branch School District March 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 the students will be absent, but the buildings won’t be empty. The North Branch district is undertaking a retro-fit and repair initiative of schools’ energy systems, starting with insulating the hot water pipes, to replacing urinals and toilets with low flow models, to systems replacements. Over spring break subcontractors will address the temperature controls and be performing tests for a baseline and to guage improvements.
Kent Wolff, of Ameresco, says priority locations have been photographed (infra red camera images) providing data for the “before and after” evaluation, and many of the approved projects are already done. Under its contract, Ameresco gives periodic updates to the North Branch School Board, and reps were on the Board agenda last week.
Bathrooms now have more efficient fixtures, there’s insulation, weatherization, and building envelope repairs completed and even faucet aerators are replaced.
Projects are also being worked on after-hours with four electricians on payroll right now working nights, scheduled until April, on interior lighting retro-fits.
Exterior LED lighting will be the main focus once school is out for the summer, Wolff said.
Ameresco guarantees its projects will pay for themselves in energy cost reduction and were agreed to by the Board as “tax neutral” improvements. Over the three years that the company is involved in North Branch, the firm monitors the operations and reports to the school board.
Rebates are also applied for by Ameresco with the district’s various energy providers that offer equipment replacement incentives.
In other business: ~ The school board heard that the bus drivers will vote soon on their current contract and there should be an agreement in front of the Board at the March meeting.
~ Print and electronic materials are being put together to inform voters on details about the district’s May referendum. There are rumors in town about a stadium scoreboard upgrade being one of the referendum projects, which is not accurate. The Board was reminded to get that corrected if residents ask about the vote. The high school has a “jumbo tron” style scoreboard but it was a private effort, supported with donations and advertising revenue.
~ Official resolutions were adopted unanimously by the Board declaring the referendum Tuesday May 23. (See our story January 12)
North Branch will ask for voter approval for three ballot questions. Only the third funding request stands on its own, for $500,000 annually for technology needs.
Two questions tied to each other are $59.2 million for construction and equipment acquisitions and $10.9 million for constructing a two-station gymnasium and new weight room. This bond issuance can only be allowed if the first largest bond issuance is approved.
~ North Branch City Council member Jim Swenson introduced himself to the school board and said he looks forward to serving as council-district liaison. The schools and the city cooperate on a number of things, such as awarding a joint-bid for fuel provider.
~ The district is not conforming to state regulations associated with minority groups, and accomodating instructional/activities requests.
Any district with 10 or more of a certain demographic of student must provide for certain things to be eligible for funding. The American Indian group in North Branch has forwarded concerns to the Dept of Education.
Supt Deb Henton said the district is grateful there are now involved parents. There is a 60-day window in state law to address the concerns seeking staff development on American Indian history and culture, and parent committee training. She welcomes ideas and input. Henton will report back to the Board.
~ The Board and/or staff were honored to be invited to present two North Branch initiatives at the MSBA conference. The school board association wanted to learn more about the spirit-boosting “We Are Red” program and the district’s crisis management plan.