UCF Board work session is full of energy

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Session focuses on health and wealth of the buildings…and students

By Karen Cresta, Correspondent, The Times

UCFLogoWebEAST MARLBOROUGH — Rick Hostetler, Unionville-Chadds Ford School District Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds, reported to the Board of Education on the status of the facilities, focusing on energy costs and savings, during the board’s work session Monday night.

One of the action items for approval from the board in December is the bidding of electricity purchase.  The current three-year contract doesn’t expire until June 2015 but the bidding process is beginning now.

“Number one, we are trying to tie it into the budgeting process for school districts and number two, right now, seems to be a good time to bid.  Prices are competitive,” stated Hostetler. 

Hostetler provided updates for what was completed the first year of the ten year renovation plan. Some improvements included window replacements, roof repair, and kitchen updates.  Overall, 1.2 million was spent on school building improvements.

One of the initiatives for building improvements included replacing outdated lighting technology. A total of $400,000 was spent for the lighting project. A summer project at C.F. Patton Middle School was completed and many energy savings reaped.  There will be 112,500 kilowatt hours in savings annually.   A rebate check from PECO in the amount of approximately $24,000 was given and another approximate $4,200 is anticipated from PJM, manager of the electrical grid in the northeast. Based on actual wattage readings from new light fixtures, a savings of $14,600 is anticipated in annual savings.

Further discussion for renovations will take place in January and/or February of next year. The next steps for other improvements depend on future costs for the next year of Phase 1.   A proposed update to the middle school will include redesigning and relocating the main entrance and lobby which would need to be completed while school is in session.

In other energy news and savings, joint bids for fuel were discussed.  The Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) joint purchase for fuel bids needs to move from February 2015 to very early December 2014 and the board will need to ratify the earlier date.  The early bids for fuel need to be locked in because the prices are cheaper.

In finance news, Robert Cochran, asked the board to consider for next week’s action item to transfer money received from the state in the amount of $489,000 to transfer to the capital projects’ fund in addition to the already 1.5 million set to be transferred.

Cochran also asked for authorization to seek new bus bids to purchase five full size buses for the fleet rotation.  The cost after trade-in would be approximately $320,000.  Last year, one bus and four vans were added. The approval process will include purchase history.

Kathleen Do, the chairperson for Curriculum, Education and Technology, spoke about the possibility of four new high school courses to offer for next school year. She suggested that the board take a close look at the new courses and to remember it is one of the most important things the board does to benefit students.  These courses include Apps for Digital Devices, Robotics, Introduction to Engineering Design and 3D Sculpture and Design III.

There was some discussion about the increase in social worker referrals submitted and tracked on the monthly dashboard.  There were recently an additional 67 new referrals and 55 came from the Instructional Support Team (IST) to investigate why students may not be doing well in school.

John Sanville talked about some stress factors that qualify a student as struggling and in need for special education or outside stressors such as divorce.  Sanville thought it might be beneficial to invite Rudy Reif, Assistant Principal, who works with the social workers and counselors, to have social workers come to talk to the board in more detail in January.

The PTO advisory board met two weeks ago and according to Carolyn Daniels, a lot of time was spent on the health of the students based on stress factors and stress awareness. The representatives in attendance, including parents, were very interested in continuing conversations and to get some answers to make school a little less stressful

“The health of our children is important to us, obviously.” Sanville said.

Sanville mentioned it is stress in life and should be addressed as a community.  He cautioned how far the board should reach to influence lives of families.  He acknowledged the importance to care about all 4,100 kids that come to the schools each day but not interfere with family.

Sanville will continue conversations consistent with the boards’ goals and the organizational health of the buildings.

On Nov. 6, the redistricting committee meeting was held with stake holders for review of enrollment projections.  The next step is a meeting with the board and community to present all findings and if next steps are needed to change elementary school boundary lines.  The meeting is scheduled for Dec. 16, at 7:00 p.m.

The 36-page district-wide magazine, UCF Connect, is expected to be mailed to district homes and businesses at the end of November — the publication is a joint venture of the school district and Brandywine New Media, LLC, publisher of The Times. The content of the publication is designated by the school district, It will highlight all the district schools.  It will have no cost to the district but authority over editorial and advertising content will remain with the board.

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