Carter County School Board… Board discusses Trane study, ESSER 3.0 funds

Published 11:22 pm Monday, June 28, 2021

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The Carter County School Board met for their regularly scheduled June meeting with a small list of agenda items to review and discuss during the meeting.

Dr. Tracy McAbee began the meeting by recognizing students from the Happy Valley High School and Middle School Robotics team that had a banner year reaching the state championships and finishing as runner up.

After approval of the consent agenda and the regular agenda, the meeting moved to time for Dr. McAbee to share with the board.

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The first piece of information was in regard to the survey that is currently listed on the school’s Facebook and website in regard to the ESSER funds the county will be receiving.

One main purpose of the survey is to get input from the community on how to use the ESSER 3.0 funds to benefit the county’s school system. As of the meeting, there had been 71 people that have responded to the survey.

Dr. McAbee encouraged everyone that hasn’t filled out the survey to do so to help determine what is the wishes of the community might be in regards to how to utilize the funds.

The Director of Schools also shared with the board another item that he said up front that he wasn’t looking for action to be taken at the time but want to make sure each member had the information needed in reviewing the Trane Energy Savings Study.

“They came in and just did the preliminary and so the rough estimate is there,” said Dr. McAbee. “There is a total of $266,000 that we can save in a year.

“After that runs its course in 15 years, anything left is ours to keep. Obviously, this is a loan that you get at a half percent for them to go in and retrofit the lighting and a few more things.

“I wanted you to have plenty of time to look at that and I do believe that if we are trying to do some upgrades with ESSER funds perhaps with this we could really do some upgrades in some schools.”

School board chairman Tony Garland asked a clarifying question in regards to the study and its plan.

“So basically, we are paying for new lighting – they are going in and changing the bulbs, and that saving goes to the utility bill.. correct?”

Dr. McAbee confirmed that Garland’s statement was correct.

Board member Kelly Crain said that if he wasn’t mistaken there had been several lights that had already been changed out and asked what the benefit of following through with this program.

“They spent either a day or two days hitting some schools and counting up these type of lights which are like a 32- watt light,” said Dr. McAbee referring to the lights in the meeting room. “What they have now is like a nine-watt LED.

“They went through and counted how many and then put it in their calculation. To do all the schools and everything needed to get us all these savings would be roughly $3 million dollars, for example, that is what you get the loan for.

“Everything you save pays that and it’s a state-funded loan,” continued Dr. McAbee. “So TVA has to come in and do a study before it and then a study after it to see how much you are going to make as the third party. The state has to approve that you get this loan for a half-percent so there are several checks and balances in place that you are going to make these savings over time.

“Once you pay it off, all the savings you have go back 100 percent to the school system. Hawkins County just went through it last year and that is the one that sticks out in my mind right off.”

Dr. McAbee said that the loan is guaranteed by Trane.

“There is a range – let’s say you keep it between the 68 and 72-degree range, they guaranteed that if we don’t make this, then they will cut us a check but they have never had to do that,” said the Director of Schools. “It’s a savings and guaranteed savings so that’s why I wanted us to chat about that.”

Lindsey Feathers, Director of School Nutrition, shared about the kids feeding program during summer school.

“We are feeding 1,000 kids per day in the summer school program,” said Feathers. “For the community, we are offering meal pickups at five locations Monday through Thursday from 10 am to 10:45 am and on Thursday, three days of meals are provided to their families for students under the age of 18.

“I want to thank everyone. Our administration, our staff, and our community – everyone has worked well together. The children have been having fun and it’s been a very pleasant experience,” stated Feathers.