Jefferson school board hears geothermal recommendations

September 13, 2017 GMT

JEFFERSON – Tweaking the geothermal heating and cooling system at Jefferson High School could save the school district upward of $20,000 per year in utility costs.

This projection came as part of a report given to the School District of Jefferson Board of Education during its regular Monday night meeting.

Presenting the report were representatives of Cooperative Educational Service Agency 10’s Facilities Management Services, which had been tasked with studying the efficiency of the geothermal system.

They noted that when the geothermal system was designed during the last referendum building project, natural gas costs were high and expected to go higher. However, anticipated price increases did not materialize and the current lower natural gas costs are now projected to continue into the foreseeable future.

The shale gas boom led to a drop in natural gas prices, cutting the cost of the natural gas available to the Jefferson school district by about half to today’s lows. This makes natural gas the most cost-effective heating method at this time, the consultants said.

They noted that the Jefferson school district would have seen an increase in heating and cooling costs at any rate due to the increase in square footage of the high school, which was now 40 percent bigger than it had been.

Looking at the geothermal system as it exists today, the consultants reviewed multiple aspects of how the system was utilized and made several recommendations as to how to maximize the system’s efficiency using the existing equipment.

Among the aspects of the system the consultants reviewed were the district’s usage of electrical-based heating, ventilation and air conditioning; heat pumps, outside air management, automated controls and more,

One of the recommendations they made was to update the high school’s outside air-management system to allow varying air flow. Another recommendation was to better automate the controls, which could result in significant cost savings.

Prior to the regular school board meeting, the board held a special meeting to learn about the referendum process, featuring a Referendum 101” presentation by Superintendent Mark Rollefson.

The regular school board meeting followed the special meeting. Other items on the agenda included:

• Review of the board’s strategic plan, concentrating on the first strategy outlined in the plan regarding teaching and learning.

That strategic objective aims to inspire teaching, learning and achievement by employing effective teaching strategies within a student-centered environment.

The first milestone is to identify and meet staff need through collaboration and professional development. Barb Johnson, director of curriculum and instruction, and Kathy Volk director of Pupil Sservices, will oversee this goal.

A committee will write and recommend to the administrative team, and ultimately to the school board, a vision for staff professional growth for the upcoming three years which will serve as a road map for school staff.

The second goal within this strategy is to implement a multi-tiered system of supports to identify and address all students’ needs.

Under that goal, there are three different milestones to be reached.

The first, overseen by Volk, is to enhance supports to maximize social/emotional growth for all as measured by completing first-year action steps of the school district’s mental health framework implementation plan, aligned with the state’s framework.

The second, overseen by Johnson, is to define high-leverage core instructional practices that maximize student-centered instruction and prepare students for college and careers

The third, overseen by Johnson and the building principals, is to meet student performance goals in four priority areas – student achievement, student growth, closing achievement gaps and remaining “on-track,” and building post-secondary readiness. The aim is to place Jefferson at or above the state average as measured by the state report card for school districts and individual schools.

• The annual presentation of the student nutrition report by Food Services Director Rebecca Blyth.

• A report on the summer school program and how it went this year.

• The review of a new Uniformed Services Leave-of-Absence policy. The board asked Rollefson to make certain language changes and bring the policy back at a later time for further consideration.