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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — According to a benchmarking study completed by Focus on Energy, the Colfax school district’s K-12 building has an Energy Star score of 91.
A score of 91 “is excellent,” said William C. Yingst Jr. at the Colfax Board of Education’s May 20 meeting.
The energy efficiency projects from five years ago and the energy-related items from the $7.2 million referendum are paying off and will continue to pay off, he said.
“The savings compound over the years,” Yingst said.
According to the report from Focus on Energy, the Energy Star score “is reported as a number between 1 and 100. A score of 50 translates to using the average amount of energy. Higher than 50 means a customer uses less energy than similar properties and lower than 50 means a customer uses more energy than like properties.”
Colfax received four stars out of five on the B3 Benchmark, which means “this site is using significantly less energy than the B3 Benchmark,” according to the report.
On the measure of monthly consumption by energy source type, the Colfax school district’s energy consumption of electricity and natural gas was under the benchmark in every month except April of 2018 when the consumption was right at or just a hair below the benchmark.
The Colfax school district’s use of electricity was far below the benchmark for October of 2017 through May of 2018 and was slightly below the benchmark for June, July and August of 2018.
The use of natural gas was significantly under the benchmark from October of 2017 to March of 2018 and was especially under the benchmark in November, December, January and February of the analysis period.
From October of 2017 to September of 2018, the school district’s cost for electricity was $99,528, and the cost for natural gas was $42,606, resulting in a combined cost per square foot of 68 cents, according to the Focus on Energy report.
Infrastructure updates to improve energy efficiency were part of the $7.2 million referendum approved by voters in the November of 2016 election.
Items on the energy efficiency list included new heating and ventilation equipment for the middle school and high school with new digital controls; re-piping the boiler room hot water supply system; and three energy recovery ventilators to pre-treat fresh air.
The Colfax school district also completed a list of energy efficiency projects several years before the referendum projects were completed and contracted with H&H Energy Management to guarantee a certain amount of energy savings per year for 10 years.
The school district received cash back during the energy efficiency project, and the efficiency is resulting in continuous savings for the school district, Yingst said at the May 20 meeting.
“Things were replaced that were 40 years old and were not as efficient. Now they are new and efficient, and we are saving energy and taxpayer dollars,” he said.
The school district had a zero mill rate impact at the time when the first energy efficiency projects were completed.
The Focus on Energy program helps businesses, homeowners and schools to find ways to save energy and also helps to determine how much energy is being saved by reviewing the energy performance of buildings.
Focus on Energy is funded by Wisconsin’s investor-owned energy utilities, as required under Wisconsin Statute 196.374(2)(a), and participating municipal and electric cooperative utilities.
In other business at the May 20 meeting, the Colfax Board of Education:
• Approved hiring a list of personnel to serve as summer school staff for the 2019 Colfax summer school program. The list includes Heather Niesen, Beth Kley, Felicia Lauwers, Linda Boehm, Jennifer Mohr, Amy Verdegan, Kassandra Behymer, Megan Pawlak, Courtney Doucette, Joe Doucette, Vicki Moore, Dianna Dachel, JoAnn Mayfield, Lori Halpin, Diane Buck, Sarah Yingst, Kristi Winings, Ryan Krall and Wendy Lausted. Summer Saunters personnel include Suzy Blomberg, Joe Doucette, Nancy Hovde, Sarah Yingst, Kirk Secraw and Trevor Hovde. Summer school bus drivers from June 17 to June 28 include Nancy Wittmer, Ken Wittmer, Jodi Jensen, George Entzminger, Jon Suckow and Kim McEldowney. Summer Saunters bus drivers from July 8 to July 12 include Bruce Fransway, Jodi Jensen, Jon Suckow, Ed Stuart and Kim McEldowney.
• Approved hiring a list of personnel to serve as swimming staff for the 2019 Colfax summer school program. The list includes Ally Heidorn (instructor/coordinator); instructors Madison Rood, Gwen Nold, Amber Ruschti and two additional individuals who were not yet on the list; Tucker Hovde (aide); Jackson Anderson (aide/locker room supervisor); Vicki Moore (bus aide); bus drivers George Entzminger, Jodi Jensen, Kim McEldowney, Jon Suckow, Ken Wittmer and Nancy Wittmer.
• Approved open enrollment applications for the 2019-2020 school year. The open enrollment period is from February through April 30, and students can apply to up to three school districts. The actual number of open enrolled students attending Colfax will not be known for certain until the third Friday in September student count, Yingst said. As of the day of the school board meeting, there were 82 applications to open enroll into Colfax and 108 to open enroll out of Colfax, he said. The open enrollment application numbers “are a fluid number that can turn around quickly,” Yingst said.
• Approved Student Assurance Services, Inc., as the student sports insurance provider. The school district has had student sports insurance through the same provider for many years, and the rate has not increased, Yingst said. “It’s been a good insurance for our district,” he said.
• Approved Security Health Plan as the health insurance carrier for the 2019-2020 school year. Security Health Plan is the carrier through the school district health insurance cooperative the Board of Education approved joining last year, Yingst said. “It is definitely a financing benefit to the district,” he said, adding that the Security Health Plan increase will be 6.4 percent, as compared to a 30 percent increase for the school district’s previous health insurance provider.
• Approved Delta Dental as the dental insurance carrier for the 2019-2020 school year. Colfax has had Delta Dental for the past several years, and “it’s a good service with reasonable rates,” Yingst said. Delta Dental is the largest carrier in the state and has the best rates when compared with other companies, he said.
• Approved Plainview Milk Products Cooperative as the accepted vendor for the 2019-2020 school year through CESA 11’s food service bidding. Plainview’s bid is 18 cents for eight ounces of one percent white milk, compared to 21 cents from Dean Foods. Plainview’s bid is 17 cents per eight ounces of white skim milk, compared to 19 cents from Dean Foods. Plainview’s bid is 20 cents per eight ounces of TruMoo chocolate fat free milk, compared to 22 cents from Dean Foods.
• Approved budget adjustments for the 2018-2019 school year. The school district has been using the Baird budget model the last few years, which results in more efficient budgeting, Yingst said. The adjusted numbers are sent to the state Department of Public Instruction, so the July 1 state aid estimate will be much more accurate, he said.
• Approved the resignation of Tina Rothbauer Johnson as a food service cook. According to her letter of resignation dated May 8, Johnson said she has an opportunity to further her college degree, and she has accepted a job offer with United Health Group.
• Approved hiring Susan LaNou as a full-time bus driver for the 2019-2020 school year. LaNou already has her license and has been driving on some special trips for the school district, Yingst said. LaNou plans to continue operating her business [Deluxe Beauty Salon], but as a self-employed business owner, she can be more flexible in her schedule, he noted.