Alcorn schools moves ahead with energy improvements

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal

CORINTH – Work on energy improvement projects throughout Alcorn County schools will begin soon.
More than $3 million of lighting, heating and air conditioning and other energy saving systems will be installed in the next six to eight months, said Johnson Controls project coordinator Cheryl Aquadro.
The school district received about $1.1 million in various state energy grants in September, which covers about a third of project costs, and the Qualified School Construction Bonds will cover the remaining $2.3 million.
The school board approved a bond sale earlier this week that will make it all possible. With one board member absent from the meeting, the resolution to approve the bond sale passed with two members voting in favor and two abstaining.
“We’re excited that we’re going to get to make some capital improvements for our students, improving the learning and working environment, and improve morale for kids and teachers,” said Superintendent Stacy Suggs.
Three of the five school board members have been consistent supporters of the performance contract with Johnson Controls, through which the energy improvements will be completed.
“We’ve held off on replacing some of the lighting in our gyms, and now they’ll start immediately changing out the lighting throughout the schools as we go into basketball season,” Suggs said.
This week’s vote gives the superintendent, the bank and the bond attorney authorization to work out the closing details for the school district to receive the money so work can begin, Aquadro said.
The performance contract guarantee is that if after the recommended energy-saving equipment is installed and the school district does not achieve the savings Johnson Controls guarantees, then Johnson Controls will pay the district that amount of savings out of its own funds.
Other area school districts that have performance contracts with Johnson Controls include the Aberdeen School District, Oktibbeha County Schools and Starkville Public Schools.
“The way the bonds work they’re going to end up with a .5-.6 percent interest rate in order to borrow this money,” Aquadro said. “The work will be substantially completed before school starts in the fall of 2011.”
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@djournal.com.