Belpre BOE hears update on heating

BELPRE – Belpre City Schools District Board of Education members were updated on the proposed heating system upgrades for the high school campus during the meeting on Monday.

“We have whole wings of the high school that cannot be heated because the furnace for that area has quit working and we no longer have the parts to fix them,” said Superintendent Tony Dunn. “Quite frankly, the systems are outdated and need to be replaced.”

During the February board meeting, Dunn told the board the high school’s converted coal furnace and blower system is shot and needs to be completely replaced. The proposed plan will include as many as 14 individual heating units that will be more energy efficient than what is now being used.

Dunn has been working with energy savings company Energy Optimizers on the proposed work.

Because the district does not have the funds to outright pay for the several hundred-thousands of dollars the project will cost, Dunn has proposed the board take advantage of the Ohio House Bill 264, which allows school districts to borrow money from the state for improvements and pay back the money over 15 years with the money saved on energy bills.

“My biggest concern is if we can afford the work,” said longtime board member Rod Hineman. “I know we will be able to pay it back over 15 years, but when you get into the hundreds of thousands of dollars that this will cost, the payments get pretty big.”

Dunn said the board needs to make a decision soon so the students can be comfortable in their classrooms next winter.

“If we want to get this work done this summer, we need to act pretty quickly,” he said.

In other business:

* The board approved the annual Safety Town summer program to be held May 29 through June 7 at the elementary school.

Incoming kindergarten students will learn fire safety, animal safety and water safety along with street safety and how to handle strangers during the program.

“This is a great program for the kids and they learn a lot of necessary lessons,” said board member Mike Wile, who asked how long the school has held Safety Town.

“If my calculations are correct, this will be the 30th year,” said teacher and Safety Town co-coordinator Bill VanPelt.

* The board unanimously approved the resignation and retirement of district director of instruction Larry Lorentz, effective July 31.

“If we don’t pass this, does it mean he has to stay,” Hineman joked.

Lorentz has been employed with the district since 1972 and taught business education for 25 years before moving to his current position.