Energy Savings take spotlight at Board of Ed. Meeting

The first order of business at tonight’s Plainfield Board of Education Business Meeting was the Superintendent’s official public acknowledgement of Board President Wilma Campbell’s award for her service in education. This honor was presented by P.E.R. Council #21 to Mrs. Campbell on Sunday, September 1 at the Spain Inn.

Unbeknownst to me, the School District has been employing an Energy Efficiency Specialist, Michael Pate, since August of 2012. Mr. Pate gave a short but impressive presentation about the savings, both in money and in damage to the environment, that has been achieving in only twelve months. The expenditures from the period August 2012 until July 2013 are compared to the base period of August 2011 until August 2012. Other factors that differentiate these two years, such as hurricane Sandy and changes in utility cost rates, are factored in so that the comparison is fair.

Over the course of the past year, the Board of Education has avoided costs of $651,442, or a full 24.6% of the previous year. Electricity savings totaled $410,680, natural gas savings totaled $193,627, and water savings added up to $10,656. Additionally, “special savings”, seemingly corrections in charges that Mr. Pate pursues, equal another $36,479. If you’d like that in environmental terms, this is equal to preventing 2165 Metric Tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere, removing 389 cars from the road for a year, or planting 55,371 tree seedlings for ten years. Mr. Pate gave credit to all the employees, from teachers to custodians, to administrators, with the success of the program. All employees consume energy, Pate said, but these people have “worked as a family” and decided “that they are going to save (energy) when they see the opportunity.”

During the open public session, a slew of community voices rose to express dissatisfaction with the possible termination of a tenured employee. I know absolutely no details about this matter, which caused the Board to go into executive session and start the meeting 40 minutes late. Therefore I am withholding the only information that I do have – the employee’s name, position, and the comments made on their behalf – as to not offend or neglect the viewpoints of any possible parties involved.

The Board then voted unanimously on a resolution put forth by the Superintendent to honor the memory of former Superintendent Dr. Ronald H. Lewis. The resolution is as follows.

WHEREAS, it was with great sadness and a profound sense of loss that the members of the Plainfield
Board of Education learned of the passing of Dr. Ronald H. Lewis on August 2, 2013 in Arlington, VA; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Lewis served as the Superintendent of Plainfield Public Schools from 1975-1979; and
WHEREAS, during Dr. Lewis’ tenure he was instrumental in the implementation of several key educational reform initiatives that included: flexible grouping of students, school management plan, Curriculum Redesign, introduction of the “It’s Cool To Be Smart” motto and gifted and talented programs. He is also credited with the formation of a city-wide music and art festival, the development of a Parent-Teacher-Student Council and numerous in-service programs for staff, teachers, administrators, and guidance counselors; now therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the Plainfield Board of Education does on this 17 th day of September 2013, express our condolences to the family and friends of Dr. Lewis; and present this resolution to honor the memory and contributions of Dr. Ronald H. Lewis.

The Board of Education also announced the presence of student liaisons, one of whom sat on the board tonight and made announcements about events and happenings at Plainfield High School to conclude the meeting. Hopefully we will continue to see this sort of student involvement.

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