ISD 110 eyes energy savings project

Chairwoman Teresa Kittridge and Don Johnson, both of whom will be off of the school board come Jan. 1, 2013, were recognized for their years of service to the board during the meeting on Nov. 15. Patriot photo by Todd Moen

Chairwoman Teresa Kittridge and Don Johnson, both of whom will be off of the school board come Jan. 1, 2013, were recognized for their years of service to the board during the meeting on Nov. 15. Patriot photo by Todd Moen

It pays to be energy efficient — just ask officials from Waconia Public Schools, which is embarking on an energy savings project that will pay dividends for years to come.
At its regular meeting on Thursday, Nov. 15, the Waconia School Board moved forward on an agreement with McKinstry Essention, a company that will provide guaranteed energy savings improvements throughout the school district.
Approximately $1.4 million in improvements will be completed under a unique financing plan that allows the school district to use cost savings, energy rebates and incentives to pay for the improvements and save capital funds for other projects.
“I’m really happy about this,” said Superintendent Dr. Nancy Rajanen, who described the project as a win-win situation for the district. “It’s good environmental stewardship and good public financing. It’s a great way to invest in our buildings.”
The improvements will reduce electricity usage by installing more efficient interior and exterior lighting, reduce water consumption by replacing and retuning plumbing equipment, and reducing heating costs by installing more efficient control systems.
“Staff, students and community members benefit from brighter rooms and hallways; taxpayers benefit because utility savings will pay for the cost of upgrades,” Rajanen said.
The undertaking is expected to annually generate approximately $118,000 in utility and operations savings, meaning the project will pay for itself in about 11 years. After that, the savings will be available for the district to use on other projects (although not for something like teacher salaries — the state doesn’t allow for funds allocated for capital improvements to be used for operating expenses such as teacher salaries).
McKinstry Essention will act as the general contractor throughout the project.
According to Finance Director Todd Swanson, the work will start in the near future and should be completed by the end of the school year. Swanson noted that most of the work is of the behind the scenes variety that would be completed at night or on the weekends, meaning that there would be no disruption to the classrooms.
The endeavor is an example of the district’s history of environmental stewardship and implementation of energy cost savings measures. Examples of these efforts include past lighting upgrades, watering athletic fields with rainwater, and composting lunch trash.
In other matters:
• The board unanimously approved the election results from the general election on Nov. 6.
Kenneth D. Varble (4,982 votes), Naomi Erickson (5,164 votes) and incumbent Cathy Thom (5,649 votes) were elected to the three open seats on the board.
The race included 155 write-in votes.
• Chairwoman Teresa Kittridge and Don Johnson, both of whom will be off of the school board come Jan. 1, 2013, were recognized for their years of service to the board. Kittridge has been on the board for eight years and Johnson for four years.
• The board recognized a donation of $3,700 by the Bayview PTO for You Frontress Programming and other items.
In other recent donations, Ron Knutson gave $4,650 in memory of his wife, Judi, a former ISD 110 teacher. The memorial will be used to purchase read-a-loud books for Bayview and Southview staff and students. The Bayview PTO gave $6,300 for recess equipment, a scanner, folding chairs, and iPads. The Southview PTO donated $1,987.46 to purchase accelerated reader program and supplies.
• The latest numbers show 3,560 students enrolled in the district, which is an increase of 142 over last year at this time and 257 over the same point two years ago.
• The school board will meet again at the ESC at 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 10.

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