Heat to be turned down
Thermostats in DeSoto district schools will be turned down in response to increased natural gas prices.
At Monday's DeSoto school board meeting, district transportation and research director Jack Deyoe told school board members he estimated increased natural gas prices could increase the district's winter energy bill $82,561 from last year. And that assumes a repeat of last year's mild winter.
Deyoe proposed thermostats in district schools be turned down from the current 72 degrees. A reduction of two degrees would provide energy savings of 11 percent, Deyoe said. Reducing the temperatures to 68 degrees would create an estimated savings of about 18 percent, he said.
"We don't have any control over the weather or natural gas prices," he said. "I suggest we look to where we do have control."
Deyoe suggested thermostats in classrooms for preschool and classes first- through fourth-grade be lowered to 70 degrees. Classrooms for the higher grades should be reduced to 68 degrees, he said.
The district's newer schools have effective computer-controlled temperature controls, Deyoe said. Regulating the temperatures at Woodsonia Elementary and Lexington Trails Middle Schools will be a greater challenge, he said.
The board approved the policy with the direction that room temperatures should be closely monitored. Deyoe acknowledged that work becomes more difficult when temperatures drop "much below" 68 degrees.
"I realize we have to do something, but if we start losing educational minutes because of that, we're doing the wrong thing," board member Curtis Allenbrand said.
Deyoe said principals have already discussed the plan and will monitor classroom temperatures. The thermostat setting is not meant to be an absolute and can be adjusted if even a part of a classroom drops below the designated temperatures.
Superintendent Marilyn Layman said written notices of the energy-saving policy will soon be sent home to parents. The notice will advise parents to dress their children accordingly.
In other business, the board discussed the status of the district's request for three 150 acre tracts at the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant. The property was to be used for future schools as the plant was developed.
Layman said she talked with Blaine Hastings, who is handling the transfer for the U.S. General Services Administration. The Johnson County Commission's tie vote on Oz Entertainment Co.'s Sunflower redevelopment plan has put that transfer "in limbo," she said.
The district requested the transfer for education proposes, Layman said. Although the federal government did grant a 30-acre transfer to the district, it denied the request for the three 150-acre parcels because the district would not be able to develop the property in the required three years.
However, the transfer agreement Oz negotiated with the federal government did make the land available, Layman said.
The GSA doesn't know exactly where the Oz transfer stands in light of the commission's action, the superintendent said. But Hastings indicated without Oz the district will have no pressing need to acquire the land.
"He (Hastings) said whatever happens now will be long-term and the cleanup could go on for years," Layman reported.