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Summit Board of Education Takes First Step in Shared Service Pact with City to Bring Solar Energy Power to Schools and Municipal Buildings

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Summit Board of Education Takes First Step in Shared Service Pact with City to Bring Solar Energy Power to Schools and Municipal Buildings
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SUMMIT, NJ - At its workshop meeting on Thursday evening, the Summit Board of Education announced its intention to enter into an interlocal agreement with the City of Summit to explore development of a solar photovoltaic energy system on the roofs of various schools and at several city-owned locations.

Under the agreement, the board will assume the lead in soliciting a proposal for professional services to develop the system. The board will provide $52,900 of the costs of the preliminary analysis and the city will provide the remaining $4,500.

If it approves the project the city will spend a maximum of $43,500 for installation of solar panels at the library, the pumping station and city garages, the Summit Family Aquatic Center parking lot and the Vito Gallo Senior Housing Building.

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The school district would spend a maximum of $225,900 for installation of the panels at the Brayton, Franklin, Jefferson, Lincoln Hubbard and Washington Elementary Schools, Lawton C. Johnson Middle School and Summit High School.

The agreement anticipates that all costs beyond those of the original analysis to be absorbed by an agreement that is expected to save money by the purchase of power provided through the panels.

Board members are scheduled to formally vote on the school district's portion of the agreement at the Thursday, September 15, board meeting, while the Summit Common Council is expected to act on its portion of the agreement shortly thereafter.

School Business Administrator Louis Pepe said Thursday if either of the two parties does not accept the agreement the joint project will not proceed, although either party may proceed with its own separate project.

Board Vice President George Lucaci said the school district should make sure that its buildings become as energy efficient as possible before the solar project begins.

Common Council Member and Republican Mayoral candidate, Ellen Dickson, also cautioned the board that the money saved on solar energy installations sometimes is not as great as first thought. She also said the parties to the agreement should make sure the installations do not detract from natural landscape.

Dickson said Lucent Technologies took a considerable amount of parklike land on its New Providence-Berkeley Heights campus near Mountain Avenue to install solar panels that are not that attractive.

On another shared services-type agreement, the board informally consented to a pact with Calvary Church through which the religious organization will allow the use of 12 spaces in its parking lot by staff members of Lincoln-Hubbard School.

Another issue, the state-mandated anti-bullying policy, will cost the Summit district about $10,000 for staff training, according to board Operations Committee chair, Edgar Mokuvos.

He added the board would save additional expenditures by using existing staff to enforce the policy.

Board President Michelle Stevenson noted when the state passed the program it assured school districts it would cost them nothing.

On another matter, Mokuvos noted the proposed fee-based full-day kindergarten program would be a pilot program and the district would decide after the target period whether it wanted to continue the program by charging user fees or provide it as a part of the school curriculum.

Board Communications Committee chair, Celia Colbert, added that in survey results so far respondents had questioned why the district proposed to charge a $7,400 annual fee for the kindergarten program. Some respondents felt the program should be part of a taxpayer-supported school program.

The school body would have to explain more clearly, she said, that the status of the program was a matter of choice.

Most of the costs to repair school buildings damaged by Hurricane Irene would be covered by insurance, Mokuvos said.

Pepe added the carpet in the Brayton School library would have to be replaced and there also was damage to the gymnasium floor and the principal's office.

At the high school, he noted, the band office and practice room were damaged.

The district's environmental consultants will report on the environmental consequences to the schools shortly, he said.

In a report on summer staff programs, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Julie Glazer reported 52 curriculum areas had been updated, including complete rewrites of the world language program and revision of the mathematics cycle programs at Johnson Middle School and work on the Mandarin 4 program at the high school.

The new language curricula will include more exposure by students to native speakers of each language, she noted.

Pepe outlined summer building projects in the schools including restriping the high school parking lot, shared service work with the city on sidewalk replacement and milling and paving of the back area at the middle school and the painting of the school's main gymnasium.

In addition, he said windows and painting were done at Jefferson School along with lead abatement and sidewalk repairs.

White boards were resurfaced and water fountains repaired at all schools where needed, Pepe said. 

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