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Kaneland Connection: Kaneland energy plan moves forward, with one objection

Board member Lopatin uncomfortable with wording of commitment with Cenergistic

Published: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 11:36 p.m. CDT

SUGAR GROVE – Kaneland School District 302 is moving forward with a five-year contract with an energy conservation company, but it was not a unanimous decision.

The school board Monday OK’d the commitment with Cenergistic, a company that offers energy management and conservation programs to school districts throughout the country.

The vote was 5-1, with board member Peter Lopatin voting no.

The five-year program comes at a cost of $9,000 a month to Kaneland, with the idea of ultimately saving as much as $2 million. Company representatives previously said the goal is for the district to reduce spending on electricity, gas and water.

Lopatin took issue with four numbered items described as areas that would be emphasized. Among them – that a designated campus administrator will be accountable for energy conservation, that all personnel at each campus would be expected to make a positive contribution to maximize energy conservation, that the company will implement its program through a team led by an energy specialist, and that accurate records of consumption and cost would be maintained by the energy specialist to provide results and progress.

Lopatin asked whether employees could face discipline if they didn’t follow the instructions on an item to “make a positive contribution to maximize energy conservation and produce real energy savings.” Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler said discipline could be possible if the district set an expectation and the employee was not willing to meet it.

“I have a problem with something so vaguely worded,” Lopatin said.

Lopatin also had issues with an item outlining the energy specialist’s role, which referred to energy guidelines “that will be adopted by the administration and will define the ‘rules of engagement’ for our energy program.”

“This whole thing reads like gibberish to me,” Lopatin said of that item. He said the four-part list was generic. He added that the list sounded like more of a behavior-based program in which Cenergistic officials would “nag at people” to make changes. He said it left him uncomfortable and brought him back to initial skepticism of the project.

Schuler, however, said the commitment was just a starting off point, and there would be “a much-more detailed” document to come. He said this step is simply to show that the district is committed to the project. He said work is underway.

Other board members indicated they supported the project. Pedro Rivas, who previously voted against the proposal, was not at Monday’s meeting.

Assistant principal hired

Also at Monday’s meeting, Kathy Webster was introduced as the new assistant principal at John Stewart Elementary School in Elburn. She replaces Julia Cloat.

Webster will serve in a part-time role and began in her new role Tuesday. Her contract calls for a salary of $33,000, plus benefits. According to a news release from Schuler, Webster emerged from a pool of more than 21 applicants. She previously worked in St. Charles School District 303.

• Al Lagattolla is the news editor of the Kane County Chronicle. Write to him at alagattolla@shawmedia.com.

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