Board votes to reduce energy costs

By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer

The Clovis school board voted unanimously Tuesday to contract with a firm that specializes in reducing energy costs in school districts. Energy Education, Inc. said the projected savings to the school district is $1.6 million in the next seven years.

The program focuses on correcting the habits of faculty, support staff and students throughout the district. The net effect of everybody following energy-savings standards reduces overall energy costs, company officials said.

“It’s really not a spending decision, it’s a savings decision,” said Gary W. Clark, president for the southeast division of Energy Education, Inc. “The savings that are projected … involve no capital expenditures whatsoever. It’s totally a people-oriented program.”

The Wichita Falls, Texas-based company will receive about $100,000 per year for the first four years to get the program up and running, a cost that will come out of energy savings.

Board member Mark Lansford questioned Clark about the firm’s audit techniques and how the company was able to estimate such great energy cost savings.

Clark said they inspected factors like the schools’ expenditure history, number of schools in the district and the number of air conditioning units. He said he does on-site evaluations to ensure the potential for savings exists.

He added that money currently wasted on excess energy costs can be applied directly to the classroom and all costs associated with the program will actually come out of energy savings resulting from the program.

After the meeting, board member Ken Merritt said even if the program failed, the company would reimburse the district for all costs associated with the program. He added that the company has an amazing track-record of success.

“We are truly not going to be obligated financially by participating in the program, and we can only stand to gain from the savings that we’ll realize from their efforts to teach us to use our utilities more efficiently,” Merritt said. “It truly is a win-win situation.”

The program is projected to save the district $94,800 in the first year, according to documents produced by the company. The actual energy savings are estimated at $253,000, but subtracted from that figure are company fees ($97,200) plus salary for an in-district energy educator and manager ($48,000), accounting software ($10,000) and other nominal costs.

Board member Lora Harlan motioned to approve the program and the board unanimously passed the measure.

How the energy program works:
• It makes people accountable for energy use.

• It establishes clear goals and guideposts, measured by sophisticated accounting software.

• The energy manager is trained to administrate the program, watch the utility bills, and work with staff, faculty and students to reduce energy costs.

Projected net savings each year:
• Year 1 — $94,800
• Year 2 — $127,400
• Year 3 — $152,880
• Year 4 — $180,234
• Year 5 — $311,656 *
• Year 6 — $345,739
• Year 7 — $383,676

* Energy Education, Inc. stops charging its fees in the fifth year, leading to larger gains.

Source: Energy Education, Inc.

• Interim superintendent G.C. Ross recognized board member Ken Merritt for his long-time service to the schools. Merritt began on the board in 1989 and wrapped up his service Tuesday evening. He did not seek reelection this year and Max Best will take his place at the first board meeting of March.

“We will miss your steady guidance and wise counsel on the board,” Ross said in the meeting.

Merritt thanked the crowd and board, saying it has been a wonderful pleasure to serve Clovis schools.

• Joe Strickland, who teaches third grade at Lincoln Jackson Arts Academy, was recognized by Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Ladona Clayton as one of only three Clovis teachers who is nationally board certified.

Clayton outlined the rigorous certification process, which she said can take about 400 hours of work, numerous hours of testing and a demonstration of full knowledge over content areas and an interdisciplinary approach.

“You are an exceptional teacher,” Clayton said. “We are extremely proud.”

Quotable: “I’d like to be on the board the day the United States Department of Education and the New Mexico Public Education Department comes to the realization that their AYP and ratings of our schools is wrong. I will miss not being able to say, ‘I told you so.’” — Merritt, on the Adequate Yearly Progress standards by which Clovis schools are measured

Employees of the month:

Mesa Elementary School:
• Doug Schwartz, certified teacher
• Miranda Bonney, support staff

Lockwood Elementary School:
• Kari Hatley, certified teacher
• Susan Rogers, certified teacher
• Linda Gallegos, support staff

Ranchvale Elementary School:
• Tamara Manasco, certified teacher
• Detra Lofton, support staff