CHARLTON— The winds of change are blowing decidedly greener on the hilltop campus of Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School, as administrators look toward generating renewable energy through wind turbines.
A meeting of the Southern Worcester County Regional Vocational School Committee opened last night with Superintendent-Director David P. Papagni choked with emotion as he requested a moment of silence for senior Jeffrey J. O’Brien, 17, of Leicester, who died in a car accident yesterday on his way to school.
Moving to monthly meeting business, Mr. Papagni sought and received the committee’s approval to advertise a request for proposals to conduct a wind turbine feasibility study.
“It is time for us to be proactive and take the first steps in utilizing alternative energy to run our school,” he said.
Mr. Papagni reported a three-year electricity cost of nearly $1 million, which includes a $108,900 increase from 2005 to 2007. He estimated a 60 percent annual cost savings with turbine energy.
Administrators are seeking half of the $80,000 study cost through a grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, with the balance funded by the school.
Business Manager John Lafleche said the $40,000 investment by the school to “proceed down the path of energy independence is a wise use of resources.”
The study will determine if there is enough wind on the hilltop property and the appropriate size for one or more windmills. The two models under consideration range in cost from $1.6 million to $2.2 million installed.
“At today’s rates for electricity, we would save $200,000 to $250,000, which would then save enough to pay off the bond to install it in 10 years,” Mr. Lafleche said, noting additional grants will be sought to defray installation costs.
In other business last night, the committee accepted the fiscal 2007 audit report prepared by Thomas J. Scanlon & Associates.
“This is one of the few school districts I know that has a positive cash flow,” audit subcommittee member Francis A. Lamothe of North Brookfield said.
Mr. Papagni noted the school district has a state-certified reserve fund of $721,638.
“We did not identify any deficiencies in internal control over financial reporting that we consider to be material weaknesses,” Thomas J. Scanlon wrote to the committee.
The Bay Path school district comprises 10 member towns: Auburn, Charlton, Dudley, North Brookfield, Oxford, Paxton, Rutland, Southbridge, Spencer and Webster.
By Debbie LaPlaca
4 December 2007
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