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By Caitlin R. King
The Jersey Community School Board held their regular monthly meeting on Thursday, May 19, at the Unit Office, where they discussed a variety of topics regarding the district, the most notable among those being upgrades to a number of facilities.
The first item up for discussion was presented by district administrator and director of transportation, Alan Churchman. Churchman’s proposal revolved around savings the district can obtain with the installation of solar panels at the Grafton and East Elementary Schools.
Since the beginning of 2021, solar panels have been installed on the roofs of the high school, middle school, and West Elementary buildings. In the solar panels’ first year of use, the district has saved $61,100 in electrical power costs. Given the success of the first round of solar panels in the district, Churchman gave an update regarding the plans to expand the solar panels to the other two district buildings.
According to Churchman’s updates, the plans for the solar panel installation at Grafton Elementary would save the district just under $25 thousand dollars in its first year. The proposed plans for the Grafton solar panels would save “approximately 100 percent of existing annual electrical kWh usage,” meaning that the solar panels would effectively cancel out Grafton Elementary’s electrical utility costs for the district.
Plans to install solar panels at East Elementary were also discussed. The plan for East would “save approximately 50 percent of existing electrical kWh usage,” according to the written proposal. In its first year, the proposal panels at East Elementary would save the district just over $14 thousand in electrical power costs.
The proposed plans came from Clean Energy Design Group (CEDG) and were prepared by James Holtzman. The district previously worked with the Metamora Ill. based company to install the panels at the high school, middle school and West Elementary.
After Churchman’s updates were presented, the board’s Vice President, Peggy Perdun said that agreeing to the panels’ installation was “a no-brainer,” which appeared to sum up the rest of the board’s thoughts on the matter.
LAter in the meeting, Cory Breden gave his final update to the board as JCHS principal. Starting June 1, Breden will begin working as the district’s Director Transportation & Facilities after seven years as the JCHS principal. Breden will be taking over for Alan Churchman, who is retiring after 14 years with the district.
Breden’s final update for the board as JCHS principal was in regards to planned updates to the high school’s media center and study hall. The study hall room currently has rows of theater style seating with fold away desks. The new plans, which were unanimously approved by the board, are to remove the existing seats and replace them with table style seating. The board selected a bid from Carroll Seating Company for $62,760. Carroll Seating Company is based out of Maryland Heights, Mo., and the district has previously worked with them to update the Snyders Sports Complex football locker rooms.
The plans for the new study hall will be “much more functional for the kids to work in,” Superintendent Brad Tuttle said.
Breden also discussed plans to update the high school’s media center. The overall sentiment from the board is that the existing library is an underutilized space in the school. The plans for the update come from the district’s receival of a grant specifically given to reinvigorate media centers. The board unanimously approved a bid of $102.947.75 from the Michigan based MiEN Company. The proposal includes the installation of cafe style tables and chairs, rolling desks, comfy benches and stools and counter style tables. Most notably about the new furniture is that they are electrical.
“The couches and chairs will have power in them. I think that’s one way we’ll get kids to go into the media center and recharge,” Breden said.
As of now, administrators are working to think of ideas to draw students into the media center to use. Other proposed spaces for the media center are a podcast studio and space for classes to meet.
“We’re looking forward to having an area that has not been overly used in our high school to be used more,” Breden said.
The board of education meets once a month, typically the third Thursday of the month at 6:15 p.m. at 100 Lincoln Ave in Jerseyville, with public viewing beginning at 7 p.m.. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 15. More information about the school board can be found on the district website, jersey100.org.