Highland News Leader

Highland School Board: $3.9 million in ‘energy savings’ work approved

The Highland School Board on Monday conditionally approved a $3,687,900 “guaranteed energy savings” contract with GRP Mechanical of Bethalto. The board also OK’d a $244,000 contract with Honeywell, which will perform work in conjunction with GRP.

Funding will come from the sale of Fire Prevention and Safety Bonds and will cover work previously identified in the school’s Life Safety Survey. The School Board approved the sale of $450,000 of life safety bonds last month. Those bonds were approved early in order to set the school’s tax levy in anticipation the state may implement property tax caps, a proposal which has been floated in the General Assembly.

The district will eventually have to sell more than $8 million in bonds to cover all of its life safety projects. Fire, health, and life safety bonds are not subject to public referendum.

In the contract approved Monday, among other things, GRP will perform HVAC work, rooftop replacement, window and door replacement, lighting replacement, tuckpointing, and floor replacement. Honeywell’s portion is to provide control systems for equipment GRP will be installing. The approval given conditionally that the school’s lawyers, architects and engineers must sign off on the final draft.

Over the next 20 years, the work is expected to save the district 369,150 kilowatt hours of electricity and $28,629 per year. The district also estimates it will save $184,395 per year in operations, maintenance, and future capital cost avoidance.

“They (GRP) pay us for any amount not met by guarantee,” said Highland School District Business Manager Tim Bair.

Computer science courses approved at High school

In other action, the School Board also approved a new computer science curriculum at Highland High School. The board made a commitment for $10,000 per year for four years to offset the costs of the program.

“This class will provide a variety of experiences including coding, which has been identified as a need in the area,” said Superintendent Mike Sutton. “We hope to open doors for students interested in pursuing employment in this field. We have been working with (city of Highland Assistant City Manager) Lisa Peck and the BEA (Business Education Alliance)/Highland Education Foundation to secure funding for the program over a four-year period. We are very excited about this new endeavor.”

The computer science courses will have two tracks, one for college-bound students, as well as a vocational track.

Sutton said the cost to offer the classes was low, because teachers, who will be trained through Project Lead the Way, will teach it during their prep time. Therefore, they cost is only  1/7 of a normal teacher’s salary.

Approval was given by the board on a 5-2 vote, with members Robert Miller and David Raymond voting no. Miller said he voted against it, because he thought the district should be offering more vocational classes, such as building trades. Raymond voted no because he thought the class should have been constructed to offer “industry-recognized credentials” (IRCs), which tell private business a student has been trained in a manner where they can be hired immediately

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Bus Contract

The board approved renewal of a contract with First Student for bus service for 2016-2017 school year. This is year two of the current three-year contract with First Student. The renewal is based on the change in the consumer price index (CPI), also known as inflation, which was -.7 percent in 2015. Since CPI was negative, there will be some around $12,000 in savings to the district next year.

Tennis Courts

The board approved the low bid of $206,570 to Rooters Asphalt for the tennis court asphalt work.

“The other work for the tennis courts include a fence around the perimeter, pavilion that will be located on the center court for viewing, sidewalks, electrical work, plumbing, landscaping, and signage,” Sutton said.

Separate from this, the city will be providing the lighting and restroom estimated to be a value of approximately $120,000. The combined costs of the entire project are estimated at $473,011.

However, the district only committed 40 percent of the project, minus the city’s contribution, which amounts to $141,204, but also includes a $10,000 contingency.

“The district is not paying 40 percent of the city donations,” Sutton said.

Private funding will have to come up with the additional $211,806 to finish the project.

Choir Trip

The board approved an overnight trip for the HHS Jazz Choir and Madrigal Singers to attend Music in the Parks Festival in Eureka, Mo., on Friday, May 13 to Saturday, May 14.

Personnel Decisions

The board approved the resignation of Amy Medley, language arts at Highland Middle School, effective at the end of the school year.

The retirement of Kim Mesle, a grade 3 teacher at Highland Elementary, was approved, effective the end of the 2018-2019 school year.

New employees hired were Jenna Rickert as reading aide for Highland Primary and Alhambra Primary, effective Feb. 1; and Dave Miscik as the freshmen/sophomore baseball coach at Highland High School.

New calendar

Approval of the 2016-2017 school calendar. There are some differences from this year’s calendar. The committee recommended to move the start of school back to Aug. 16 for teachers and the 17th for students. Spring break will be the Thursday, Friday, and Monday of Easter weekend, rather than a whole week, and there will be no teachers’ institute at the end of the year.

Raymond was the lone no vote on the calendar. He said he did not like that the beginning of school conflicted with the Illinois State Fair, which was a burden on students who showed projects there.

See a PDF file of the calendar attached to this story online.

Running Start

The board also approved a program, “Running Start,” with Southwestern Illinois College, whereby students could attend SWIC and received dual credit for high school, as well as college. See more about this program in next week’s News Leader.

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