Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 17, 2017

Sun to shine on WACO’s newest project

By Brooks Taylor | May 21, 2014

WAYLAND — WACO may make history again.
This year, the school district became the first in Iowa to have a four-day school week. Now, WACO is considering capturing the sun’s rays for electric power in its buildings in Crawfordsville and Wayland.
“We would become the first school district in Iowa to do this,” said WACO Superintendent of Schools Dr. Darrell Smith. “Some school districts are partially doing this but nobody is doing it totally. We would be pioneers and the usual question you get when you are pioneers is, ‘Can we do this?’”
Smith thinks the district can and discussed the project with the WACO School Board Monday night during the board’s regular meeting.
WACO has the project on the fast track. “If we do this, it will have to be done quickly to qualify for rebates (from energy utilities),” Smith said.
Such a project would cost around $2 million and would necessitate some innovative financing. “We can only bond about $1 million, so we would have to get creative with our financing,” the superintendent said.
The payback is estimated by the solar company as five or six years, but Smith believes eight to 10 years may be more accurate. The school district spends approximately $120,000 for electricity during the fiscal year, and Smith estimates annual electrical savings at $90,000.
District officials began discussing solar energy earlier this year “but kept it quiet,” Smith remarked.
Not only does he see solar energy as a cost-cutting mechanism, he also said it would benefit education. “I think this would be an educational tool. It shows a lot of promise.
“We may have to take a risk but you don’t get better if you don’t take risks,” the superintendent noted. “It’s worth the risk. We would be generating power and providing educational opportunities for students. This will be a major project, and I think it will be worthwhile.”
If WACO were to pursue the project, a couple of public hearings would be needed as would a bond referendum.
In other action last night, the board ratified the master contract with the WACO Education Association (WEA). The pact calls for a 3-percent total package increase. Last year, the association and board agreed on a two-year monetary contract with a 4-percent total package increase given faculty this year.
The base will increase from $26,815 to $27,160. Contract longevity salary increments will increase from $804 to $815. Cumulative total for the association package is $3,016,898, an increase of $87,836.89.
Language items were open to negotiation, but there were only slight moderations in the contract. One change was to reflect the length of the school calendar and another was to reflect time for professional development time which will include time for peer review.
“The WEA was very easy to work with,” Smith said. “I appreciate that because it made it easy for us this year. We will see what next year brings because money will be involved.”
Personnel matters saw the board approve contracts for Candy Skow, elementary school secretary, $8.85 per hour; James Hawkins, elementary custodian, $9.35 per hour; Jay Coble, head volleyball coach, $3,391; and Gwen DeVaul, head junior high volleyball coach, $1,529.
Dianna Herzinger’s resignation as K-12 guidance counselor was accepted and Paul Kissell was given a one-year sabbatical from a high school assistant football coaching position.
Finally, the board approved spending $7,698.59 in Microsoft settlement funds for computer software. Smith said the purchase will exhaust the funds remaining in the account.
WACO directors meet in June at the Crawfordsville Elementary School for their annual visit to the school. The meeting will be Monday, June 16, at 6:30 p.m.

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