Superintendent Erica Kludt-Painter sits with school board members Cheryl File and Sarah Holmgrain at a meeting Aug. 9, 2016

Superintendent Erica Kludt-Painter sits with school board members Cheryl File and Sarah Holmgrain at a meeting Aug. 9, 2016

The Petersburg school board held a meeting about the upcoming school year. The meeting was short, lasting less than an hour. A lot of the time was designated to the maintenance department which works throughout the summer. Board members heard a report on how much money the district has been saving on electricity and fuel in recent years.
District Maintenance Director, Dan Tate, reviewed some of the projects that have been completed over the summer. He says a lot happened.

“It’s one of the more difficult summers that I can remember in terms of scope of work required and the difficulty in the work that we had to do,” Tate said.

But Tate says his current maintenance department was up to the task.

“My crew made this possible,” he said.

Classrooms were prepared for teachers which included new paint and cabinetry in some cases. The construction team put in a rock garden in front of the Stedman Elementary School to solve a drainage problem.

Also at the elementary, the playground landscaping timbers were removed for safety reasons and outdated equipment was removed for future expansion. And the school cafeteria’s dish washing station was rebuilt.

In the high school, a new office area was built for the Special Ed instructor because the classroom was moved across the hall. New service windows were installed in the middle school office. New carpet was installed in the hallways and the offices of the combined high school and middle school. The gym floor had its annual refinish. And work began on the new floor for the high school cafeteria. Contractors also installed new LED lights in the high school shop and in the weight room.

Tate also shared new information he’s been compiling about the school district’s fuel and electrical usage. Using multiple graphs, he compared the last three years. The blue line represented 2014 and the green, 2015. The red one was this past year.

“What we have here if you look at the red and the green, we’ve got a pretty predictable data going here,” Tate said. “And granted, we’ve had some pretty mild winters, and if we get some really cold weather, we’re going to see some spikes and that’s to be expected but I think we can utilize this data really well between Karen and Erica and I to really predict where we should be putting our budget money in the coming years as long as we keep maintaining this data.”

Karen Quitslund is the Finance Director for the District and Erica Kludt-Painter is the Superintendent.

The data shows that the remodel at the elementary school brought a sharp decline in fuel usage and cost to the district.

“It’s 50 percent less fuel from when we did the remodel,” Tate said.

The elementary used 24,000 gallons of fuel oil in 2014. That dropped to about 11,000 and 12,000 gallons the last two years.

The middle and high schools also used less fuel the last two years. Tate says that’s because the schools were each running 30 year old boilers back in 2014. Since then, one of the boilers has been replaced and another one is being installed this week. The other reason, he says, is because the schools stopped heating the whole building all the time. Starting in the Spring of 2014, the schools went from about three to 12 separate zones. That means now, only certain parts of the building are heated as needed.

“So for instance tonight, this room and the band room I think are the only two rooms running on that particular system and the rest of the school’s shut down” Tate said.

Back in 2014, the Middle and High schools used 53,000 gallons of fuel. In 2013, it was 36,000 gallons and last year it was 33,000 gallons.

As for electrical use, the Middle and High School had an 11 percent reduction between 2015 and 2016. Tate says some of the savings came from the efficient LED lights that were installed in the gym. At the grade school, there was a slight decrease in electricity from 2015 to last year. The data didn’t show electrical use for 2014 before the renovation.

The school district also pays for the electricity for the community gym and the aquatic center. It’s part of a shared use agreement so the school district can use the facilities.

For the pool, in 2015, the school district spent $137,000 in electricity; in 2016 it was $145,000. The pool uses electric boilers.

For the community gym, the district pays about $10,000 a year for electricity.

The first day of school for students is Monday, August 29.

There will be staff in-service August 22-25.