District 1's solar savings to expand
Installation of photovoltaic systems at James B. Rolle Elementary and Ron Watson Middle School has moved closer, the Yuma Elementary School District 1 board was told Tuesday.
As part of an agreement with SolarCity Corp., the district will purchase the power generated by the solar panels at a fixed rate of 6 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for the next 20 years. Arizona Public Service, which has approved the plan, is currently charging the district 8.3 cents per kWh.
Kerry Jones, chief financial officer for the district, said previous solar projects completed by SolarCity in the district have resulted in dramatic savings.
“Had we not installed these energy savings devices, we would've spent another $425,000 on energy” when comparing 2011 with 2008, he said. “These are in fact having a significant impact on our energy usage, and the savings are such that they are paying back the investment on these projects.”
The governing board voted to continue the process of building the new projects at both schools.
Jones also reported that District 1 attendance has dropped by about 205 students, or just over 2 percent, since the last school year.
Jones said the biggest decreases in attendance have been at Pecan Grove Elementary, O.C. Johnson Elementary, Desert Mesa Elementary, Fourth Avenue Junior High and Woodard Junior High.
Pecan Grove has lost 65 students, O.C. Johnson and Desert Mesa have each lost 30 students, Fourth Avenue has lost 23 students and Woodard has lost 19.
Also during Tuesday's meeting, the governing board approved an intergovernmental agreement between the district and the city of Yuma in which school resource officers from the Yuma Police Department are made available to district campuses. The Yuma City Council now needs to vote on the matter.
The board also was briefed about Woodard Junior High School's effort to achieve national demonstration school status as part of the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program.
“There are over 4,900 AVID schools in the United States right now,” said Woodard Principal Andy Wait. “There are only 127 of them that are demonstration schools, so it is a pretty big deal.”
AVID sent a team to oversee a mock demonstration of the school in October. A similar team will return again in January, with a final visit scheduled for the end of the second semester. If all goes well during the final visit, the school will be granted the demonstration status.
If selected, the school will “serve as a model school for other schools starting AVID, or at different stages in AVID, to see what it looks like with full implementation,” Wait explained.
AVID prepares students for “college readiness,” Wait continued. “That's really what it promotes, a college-bound atmosphere and teaching kids to be thinking at a different level and to be organized.”
Also during the meeting, the board recognized public citizens and organizations that have so far donated $53,000 to the district this year and reviewed the gifted program, which hasn't been funded since 2008.
Board members also adopted a consent agenda that included ratification of payroll vouchers, expense vouchers, out-of-state travel for administrators, student field trips and human resource issues.
Chris McDaniel can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6849.