King William County schools will soon take part in an energy-saving solar panel project expected to save the schools more than $4 million over 30 years.
The King William School Board discussed and approved (with at-large board member Bryan Major absent) a solar panel project by Sun Tribe Solar that would save the division money on power and provide a learning experience for students at their Tuesday night meeting.
The project will put solar panels to the left of the bus loop at Hamilton-Holmes Middle School and will serve the middle school, elementary school and primary school, providing energy savings. The high school is too far up Route 30 for the wiring to reach, according to Superintendent David White.
Sun Tribe Solar has previously handled and is undergoing similar projects at Middlesex County and Westmoreland County public schools, according to White.
The clearing of trees and installation of the solar panels are all paid for by Sun Tribe Solar. The school division has entered a 30-year power purchase agreement and the division is expecting a decreased energy rate, according to White. In moving from electrical power to solar panel power, the school division will save about $4,051,252 over 30 years, according to White.
The project also comes with a solar science education grant to give students opportunities to learn about solar energy.
The board approved the project site plan unanimously, although the division is still in the process of checking with legal counsel on the terms of the agreement. White said the project is expected to begin in spring or summer.
Morrison said the project is an exciting opportunity for the division, county and students.
The School Board re-elected Kathy Morrison chairwoman and Steven Tupponce vice chairman unanimously.
The board discussed the possibility of changing the 2019-20 school calendar to start the year on Aug. 25, a week before the normal start date, which is after Labor Day.
White said the division has the authority to change the date with an automatic waiver given from the Virginia Department of Education based on the number of days they have been out for inclement weather during the past year.
The waiver is given to school divisions that have missed more than eight days on average for five years during the last 10 year period, according to White.
“This would give us that natural semester break,” White said. “It also gives us more instruction time. Winter break would still be the same date and time frame of two weeks.”
The board agreed to let the administration tell parents about the proposal, to post the proposal on the website and to schedule a public hearing for their February meeting.
The board also discussed a possible amateur basketball team made up of participants from multiple jurisdictions, including King William, with the request to practice and play in the Cool Springs gymnasium with the $100 four-hour-block facility fee waived.
Tupponce said the board usually waives fees for student organizations, and the proposal would require a staff member to be available for the practice.
“We need a fallback plan,” Tupponce said. “We also don’t want to set a precedence that we will waive fees for all organizations.”
Board member Tara Roane agreed, saying they don’t have a specific fee waiving policy and they should be fair to all organizations.
Tupponce said the board and administration should also look at a fee scale and schedule for teams that want to use a facility more than once or during a six-month period.
White said he will get more information on the proposal and look at a fee schedule.
The proposal is in the early stages and the other jurisdictions that would be involved on the amateur basketball team are not yet known, according to White.
Public input on 2019-2020 budget
Before the school board meeting, the board held a public hearing for input on what should be included in the 2019-20 budget.
Cool Springs Primary School first-grade teacher Suzi Sherman discussed her resource brain lab class that she has been testing at the schools this year.
The brain lab has to do with growth mindset, a theory that helps students develop social and emotional skills, according to Sherman.
“I have taught a growth mindset lesson to every class in school, am starting a second lesson and planning more,” Sherman said. “Teachers have reported to me that their students are supporting each other and stop and think before giving up on something.”
Sherman wants the division to consider adding the resource class full time to Cool Springs in the 2019-20 budget. The cost of adding the class and making Sherman a full-time equivalent teacher for the class is unknown, according to White.
No one else spoke at the public hearing.
Luck can be reached at 757-291-2038, firstname.lastname@example.org or @ashleyrluck on Twitter