Moffat County School District mulls lighting update for facilities |

Moffat County School District mulls lighting update for facilities

The Moffat County School District discusses curriculum with Zack Allen during its August 2019 meeting.
Craig Press File

Topics regarding student dress code, school curriculum, and a lighting upgrade project were among the most pressing on the agenda for the Moffat County School District Board of Education at its regular meeting Thursday, Aug. 22.

Brightening up

The meeting started with a presentation from two representatives from Excel Energy Group, based in Russellville, Arkansas, to discuss the logistics about a district-wide energy-efficient lighting project. Excel worked with the school district on a lighting project in 2008. The projected cost for the upgrade is an initial cost of $534,793 with annual payments of $65,412 over an eight-year payback period.

This would be accompanied with a projected 4% financing interest rate over the course of 10 years.

“It is designed to pay for itself by a reduced electric bill,” said Colton Churchill, vice president of design and development at Excel.

The projected annual savings for the district, as provided by Excel, is an energy and demand savings of $56,674 and a maintenance savings of $10,447. This would total a savings of $67,121, creating a $1,709 difference between the projected savings and the annual payment. 

“This is a savings,” said Board Member Chris Thome. “Just based on the numbers we looked at, it’s a hell of a savings.”

The lighting upgrade project was prompted because many of the lighting products currently in use in MCSD buildings are outdated and inefficient.

The project would involve the upgrading and/or replacement of approximately 6,700 lighting fixtures, lamps, and ballasts, as well as an installation of occupancy sensors in every room with four or more lights such as classrooms, hallways, and common areas. The project would take a few months to complete and would standardize the lighting products across all district facilities.

The board voted in favor of moving forward with negotiations with Excel Energy Group.

Adding up

Zack Allen, district director of curriculum and educator effectiveness, presented a road map for the MCSD curriculum, touching on the implementation of Illustrative Mathematics.

The program is a problem-based core mathematics curriculum for grades six to eight that develops mathematical thinking skills through questioning, discussion, and real world contexts and connection. The board asked teachers in attendance who have experience with the program to comment. Each teacher spoke very highly of the program, the training, and how it offers multiple approaches for a student to figure out and understand a problem.

Welcome to new staff

During Superintendent David Ulrich’s report to the board, he introduced Renee Campbell as the new administrative assistant to the superintendent. Campbell was also designated as the election official by the School Board for the MCSD election. 

“I know that we’ll benefit greatly from her expertise,” Ulrich said.

Following Campbell’s introduction, Katie Blankenbaker was introduced to the board as the new assistant principal at Moffat County High School.

Ulrich also announced that there will be a net increase in the district’s Memorial Regional Health contract of $20,000 due to the addition of a full-time nurse position to provide adequate coverage for students.

Dress it up

The meeting concluded with a divided school board on a potential revision to MCSD policy JICA — Student Dress Code.

Several members were in favor of adding hats to the unacceptable items to be worn in all schools within the district. Currently, hat policies are building specific, left to the discretion of the principals.

Several board members argued that hats can not only be a safety concern, especially when they’re used to cover faces, but that hats worn indoors are disrespectful. Another issue brought up with hats is that there have been students who wear hats displaying drug paraphernalia such as marijuana leaves or a beer brand.

“If you can’t wear them in elementary school, and you can’t wear them at the middle school, then it should be the same at the high school,” said Chip McIntyre, board member and treasurer.

It was noted that some officials at the high school do not see the enforcement of a no-hats policy as a battle worth fighting.

Educators at other levels feel similar.

“I can teach a kid with a hat on, and I can teach a kid without a hat on,” said Lauren Pontious-Powell, a literacy coordinator at Sandrock Elementary School.

Pontious-Powell argued that some kids are not entirely comfortable with themselves at various stages in their childhood, and that wearing a hat can serve as a sort of safety blanket. She then went on to explain that enforcing a hat policy would be disruptive to both the students it effects and the classroom.

“At the last board meeting, community members in the audience were wearing their hats. I don’t see this as being an issue,” she said. “Our policies should be congruent with the community.”

The next MCSD board meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26 in the administration building, 600 Texas Ave.

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