The District 7 Board of Education approved several hires, retirements and resignations were approved at its meeting last week.
The board also chose to stream the session on the internet to provide more opportunity for people to listen to the topics discussed, including a presentation on solar panels by Clean Energy Design Group.
James Hotlzman, an architect and co-owner of Clean Energy Design Group, discussed the possibility of placing solar panels on the rooftops of district buildings. The board will consider the topic at its next meeting this month.
“[Hotlzman] approached us as a district earlier in the school year to talk about how the district could take advantage of some of the work that’s happening at the federal and state level related to energy credits and work with a company to put solar panels on our buildings, and by putting solar panels on our buildings experience quite a bit of energy savings from a financial standpoint as well as just the morally sustainable, environmentally friendly thing to do,” said Superintendent Patrick Shelton.
Holtzman said Clean Energy Design Group has completed 35 solar projects within school districts and municipalities in Illinois over the past couple of years.
“Our actual goal has been to work with school districts from the get-go because of the opportunity to create win-win scenarios where the district is able to save significant funds on energy expenditures by the allowance of projects on site and the additional opportunity to teach kids and kind of bring the community up to speed with sustainability,” Holtzman said.
Eleven district facilities would be compatible for rooftop solar panels, he said. Clean Energy Design Group predicts power from those facilities would total up to around 50% of what the district would historically be required to buy.
The Power Purchase Agreement that was proposed would be a long-term 20 year agreement with two potential five-year extensions. The rooftop modules would be warranted for 25 years with the ownership group responsible for all maintenance. Overproduction of power would go back onto the grid and be eligible for credit, according to Holtzman.
Holtzman said several districts have made the addition of solar panels a learning opportunity, as well.
The board also approved the district’s 2021-2022 audit as performed by Schowalter & Jabouri. The district’s operating funds which include Educational, Operations and maintenance and Transportation and Working Cash funds ended the year with a balance of about $27.4 million, an increase from the prior year.
District’s 7 profile is still in “Recognition” which is the highest level as established by Illinois State Board of Education.
The board began the session, as it does every work session, with the next part of their book study on “Belonging through a Culture of Dignity” by Floyd Cobb and John Krownapple. The discussion covered how to create, develop and sustain organizational culture.