Kaneland School District 302 will no longer utilize Cenergistic’s energy-savings program.
The decision was made during the Kaneland School District 302 Board of Education meeting on April 10. Pedro Rivas was the lone board member who disagreed with the decision, as the total cost to terminate the contract was $132,650.
“We get involved in this type of program, and now we want to get out of it,” Rivas said. “ ... I find it hard to believe that we're stepping away and going to have to pay for it.”
The contract with Cenergistic dates back to May 2014. Last November, it was reported that the district saved $142,788 during the second year of the program, raising the total savings to $246,767. That doesn’t take into account though the costs for the district to participate, which includes $108,000 annually for the program and $6,650 for measurement software.
The initial hope was for the district to save approximately $2.1 million over 10 years. That hope has suddenly dissipated.
Board member Ryan Kerry debated whether it made the most sense to cut ties with Cenergistic at this time, with concerns that savings projections weren’t being met and likely wouldn’t be met in the near future.
“If the savings haven’t materialized yet, it’s difficult to believe it will materialize in the next couple of years,” he said. “It’s just tough to eat that $130,000.”
With a projected budget deficit of around $1.5 million for 2018-19, cuts like this one have been deemed necessary to help reduce the projected future deficit.
“I believe we all want to save money, and each dollar saved goes back to the classroom,” said Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, associate superintendent. “That has been a priority in facing these financial challenges for the past 10 years. Choking on that $132,000 for nothing is disappointing, so I feel your pain.”
There was brief discussion that they’d hold on off cutting ties and allow Cenergistic to come back with another offer, but the board didn’t share optimism that things would change.
“Realistically, we know they have their costs, their salaries of people, so I don’t think they could reduce much, and we don’t have faith in their ability to find further savings anyway,” said Theresa Witt, board president. ‘I would rather cut bait at this point.”