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Schools save $100,000 with energy program; new SLD grant doubtful

By Lacy Hilliard
On October 11, 2012 the monthly meeting of the Johnson County School Board was called to order. After the approval of September’s minutes, the board moved on to discuss current pressing issues.
Jamie Roberts was up first to discuss the progress of the district’s youth basketball league. Roberts ensured the board that the previous basketball season was a success and he anticipates no problems with the upcoming season. Roberts asked for the board’s support in utilizing the gymnasiums throughout the district for practices and games. The board pledged their continued support for the basketball league and praised Roberts for a successful season.
Student School Board Representative Jacob McGlamery gave his monthly report to the board following Roberts. McGlamery updated the board about Longhorn sports, including their homecoming victory over Wise Central with a score of 26-0. McGlamery also informed the board that the JCHS Marching Band placed third at their first competition of the season. Many JCHS clubs and organizations are sponsoring several upcoming charity events; McGlamery reported that the JCHS volleyball team will be hosting a game that will help show their support for breast cancer awareness. The student council is showing their support for National Bullying Prevention Month by encouraging staff and students to wear blue on Friday, October 19. It was also reported by McGlamery that the HOSA club raised over $2,000 during their recent “Red Out” event in support of heart disease prevention and awareness.
JCHS staff member and newly appointed energy supervisor, Lisa Mullins, was in attendance to give the board an update about the status of the district’s new energy conservation effort. Mullins has been working with the company Energy Education which was appointed by the board to aid in identifying and remedying energy loss and savings within the district. Mullins reported that the district has already saved over $100,000 since the start of the program in early 2011. The savings, which are higher than the projected amount, are expected to increase as staff and students become more accustomed to new energy policies. The board also voted to accept a $9,285 energy grant to further their efforts. Mullins informed the board that due to Johnson County’s success with the Energy Education program, several other area districts are considering enrollment.
Robert Sutherland was up next to inform the board of the status of the SLD grant (for technology) that the district applied for two years ago. Back in 2010 when the district originally applied for the grant, they met the minimum free and reduced lunch ratio required for obtaining the grant. However, due to new mandates, Johnson County falls just short of the minimum requirement and is expected to be denied for the grant. The funding from the SLD grant was to be used for many advanced updates to the district’s technology systems. The district is faced with state mandated Internet testing that will determine whether or not the systems are up-to-date. Sutherland assured the board that the current technology would not meet the standards in its current state. The idea proposed includes many advanced additions including fiber optic cable which would provide a boost in Internet speed as well as reliability and an umbrella WIFI network that theoretically would allow the user to roam all over the JCHS/JCVS/JCMS property without ever losing signal. Sutherland reported that the upgrades will be costly but beneficial. Currently, the board is considering the company Enterasys to oversee the upgrades.
Several items on the agenda gained board approval including copier leases for both Roan Creek Elementary and Central Office, the TSBA Business Trip and Accidental Death and Dismemberment Coverage (pending additional information about policy specifics as per the request of board members), and the 2013 Head Start budget. Subsequent to the approvals, the board members wished district staff a successful year and the meeting was concluded.