Purdy storm shelter nearing completion

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

School board takes positive view of LED light conversion

Purdy school board members reviewed progress on the nearly completed storm shelter and explored other facility improvements during the board's November meeting.

Superintendent Steven Chancellor reported the first program to be presented in the new FEMA shelter/performing arts center will be held on Dec. 6, the Future Business Leaders of America Christmas social. Chancellor planned a public tour for patrons who offered their endorsement to the bond issue financing the building construction on Dec. 3.

Completion is progressing slowly.

“We're sitting in a rocking chair,” Chancellor said. “We're going through a lot of motions but not getting far. We're trying to get some things done and problems fixed. Landscaping and trees may have to wait till the spring.”

At the board's December meeting, Chancellor expects to present a full review of the assets in the new building as part of the property insurance renewal for the coming year.

Colton Churchill from Xcel Energy kept the conversation about facilities improvements going by formally presenting a plan to convert the district to LED lighting, like the effort recently completed at the Monett schools and earlier in Pierce City. Churchill said the cost would be $179,000 for all five buildings in the district, including the old Rainbow Dreams daycare used last year as a preschool. The new storm shelter is not included as it was built with LED lights. Xcel specializes in school lighting projects, he said, and in making them pay for themselves in the savings derived from using less wattage. Churchill expected Purdy could see the project paid for through savings in 6.4 years. Incentives once available through Empire District Electric Company are presently not offered, he added.

Xcel would offer a turnkey job and have a third party calculate the savings. Churchill said the district would have to pay Xcel directly or finance the project up front. With support from the state, interest rates on such a project could cost as little as 2.75 percent, he said. Private financing has been running around 9 percent, through he said that has been falling.

Churchill said Xcel warrantees its indoor lights for 10 years and outdoor lights for five years. He said there would be no problem seeing technology devices in the new light, and no more pulsing lights because all the old ballasts causing that effect would be removed. He recommended running purchasing through the Interlocal Purchasing System known as TIPS/TAPS, a purchasing cooperative handling most similar lighting projects.

Churchill stressed his project targeted the easiest savings for the district. He said the conversion to LED would not interfere with the addition of solar panels, previously discussed but tabled by the board. Churchill viewed that as a separate project, one with higher costs that he expected to fall as the technology improved. Presently he said paying for solar energy through savings takes 12 to 20 years, though he advised his firm sees solar as “the way of the future.”

Board members approved joining TIPS/TAPS, which has no membership expenses. They authorized Chancellor to look further into the LED project and to prepare a formal package for board approval.

Looking at other innovations, Chancellor said he and Monett Superintendent Russ Moreland have discussed forming a new service, similar to the Scott Regional Technology Center, for providing more intense special education services. Students, particularly those with more intense autism disorders, now have to go to Joplin or Springfield. Monett, he said, is exploring retrofitting an existing building and offering those services presently not available in Monett to districts in a cooperative, like the sending school arrangement for Scott Tech, overseen by Beacon Health Options.

Chancellor said the arrangement, once completed, would cost less to the district than transferring students to Springfield or Joplin and could serve more students. He noted the number of students with more severe autism was increasing. Purdy would send three or four students from its present population. The district would supervise its involvement and help pay for the staff.

In other business, board members approved renewing the district's cash bonus as an early incentive to announce retirement. Faculty declaring retirement plans before January will receive a $1,000 bonus. Declarations In January would warrant a $500 bonus. Chancellor said the strategy has served the district well by buying more time to find better candidates to fill vacancies. He did not think the approach had hurt the district in any way.

With that approved, the board approved the retirement of Mark Trent at the end of the school year. A former middle school teacher, Trent in recent years has run the district's participation in the Missouri Option Program alternative school.

Filing dates for the upcoming April 2, 2019 school board election were approved for Dec. 11 to Jan. 15. Members whose terms expire this year will be Ed Mareth and Todd Schallert.

Valerie Bennett with the Purdy Health Clinic addressed the board about the service offered through her facility. She said she had discussed with Chancellor the option of having staff available early on Mondays or Tuesdays to come to the school to assess students to assess ill children.

The visit could save a trip to the doctor's office. Chancellor said that could save the district a full day's absence by a faculty member waiting to get into a doctor's office with a sick child. He said he was discussing other options with Bennett that could further benefit staff healthcare needs.

Mindi Gates, associate superintendent, returned to the subject of the district's new human sexuality policy discussed at length by board members earlier. The board adopted the model policy as presented through the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, adopting against rewriting the policy and tackling unforeseen complications through omission.

Gates provided an outline of how the policy is taught, using a textbook. She noted much of the subject matter is covered in the semester long health class. Parents would receive a letter prior to the class, explaining that certain subject matter would be addressed in the class, giving them the option to address any concerns in advance. Chancellor said he would make the textbook available to parents in advance if interested. He added it was not unusual to receive such requests.

As for attendance, Principal Derek Banwart reported numbers by November tallied nearly 623, up from the 587 on opening day.

Banwart reported how 13 FFA students attended the national FFA convention in Indianapolis, Ind. Five qualified for state in cross-country and 11 qualified for the area high school honors choir.

Elementary Principal Julie Dalton reported the dental clinic organized by the school nurse resulted in 65 students receiving fluoride treatments, 29 received filings or other procedures and seven got referrals to other dentists for more serious issues.

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