SAD 44 approves engineering study for energy-saving project

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BETHEL — The SAD 44 board Monday approved of an engineering study of Telstar Regional Middle/High School and Crescent Park Elementary in preparation for a potential energy-saving project.

Superintendent David Murphy said Honeywell, of southern Maine, has done an energy audit of the two buildings.

The engineering study is the next phase in changing from oil heat to wood pellets at the Telstar complex. A study on making the elementary school more energy efficient will be done.

Murphy said the study will take about 12 weeks. When completed, the board will decide who will do the nearly $1 million project. If the board decides to go with a firm other than Honeywell, the district will reimburse the company for engineering costs.

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Murphy said the energy projects should be completed before the beginning of the 2014-15 school year.

Switching from oil to wood pellets is expected to pay for itself in 12 years, he said. Currently, 90 percent of the district’s heat is provided by oil.

In another matter, Murphy said Andover voters will decide at their annual town meeting next month whether to raise an additional $180,000, on top of SAD 44’s school tax assessment, to keep the Andover Elementary School open for another year.

During the past several years, Andover residents have raised additional sums to keep the small K-5 school open. The school educates about 30 students.

Murphy said Andover residents will also decide whether to go forward with a plan to leave SAD 44. The last effort showed a majority of residents wanted to withdraw from the district but the vote was six short of the two-thirds majority required for passage.

Also Monday, the board learned that all district social workers and guidance counselors will attend a conference on suicide prevention in April. The state has mandated that all such employees in all state schools undergo the training.

The Bingham Betterment Foundation provided a $7,500 grant for the district’s art teachers to attend summer workshop sessions at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle.

The board also learned that all 10 district facilitators and advisory board members involved in the Teacher Incentive Fund $4.5 million grant will travel to Washington, D.C., for a two-day conference in March.

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