Three visitors told the McComb school board Tuesday that the savings from renovations to aging heating and air conditioning systems would repay the principal and interest of a $3.2 million loan over 20 years.
Superintendent Dr. Cederick Ellis said the board may consider at next week’s meeting a proposal to get all of its building air systems analyzed to see which ones need the most work.
Warren Bowen of Triage Facility Consultants in Jackson told the board that more than half of the district’s equipment is between 10 and 25 years old and needs to be replaced.
“At this stage, most of your systems are completely outdated,” he said. He recommended that the board get its buildings “out of the boiler business,” because they use energy inefficiently.
Josh McNeil of Energy Systems Group, a subsidiary of the CenterPoint Energy utility, said installing up-to-date management systems in each buildings would save energy by making sure that air systems are off at night, when the buildings are empty. He added that systems can be designed to heat or cool a single room for a teacher or principal who works after hours or on weekends.
McNeil said ESG guarantees specific annual energy savings in its contracts with school districts.
“Ninety-nine percent of the time, we exceed our guarantee by 5 to 10%,” he added. “The number one compliment we get from teachers is how quiet those units are. You do not even hear them hum.”
Chris Ewing of Ewing Kessler also spoke to the board, describing the company as one that constructs and installs building systems.
McNeil presented a chart to the board that predicted $204,000 in savings during the first full year of operation, rising to $261,000 in the 20th year. ESG estimates the cost of the loan plus interest will total $4.22 million over 20 years, but the savings will total $4.62 million during the same period.
In another matter, the board discussed five proposals from trustee Lynn Gilmore, who suggested that the board:
• Investigate the cost of sponsoring the “Life Through Their Eyes” poverty simulation, and ask key school officials and members of the community to attend.
• Discuss showing the documentary “Pushout: The Criminalization of Black and Brown Girls in Schools.”
• Discuss hiring a Mississippi School Boards Association employee to work on McComb’s logo and any related copyright issues.
• Visit as a group a successful school district in February to see what it’s doing to close achievement gaps. She specifically mentioned St. Charles Parish, La., upriver from New Orleans.
• Discuss having McComb staff attend the National School Boards Association conference in April.
Other trustees gently pushed back on some of the ideas.
Board president Eliece Rayborn said she talked with a North Pike trustee who is interested in seeing if all three Pike County school districts would host the poverty simulation at the same time.
Rayborn also said she thought the “Pushout” documentary would be better presented by a service organization instead of the school district, “so that we don’t single out any particular race.”
Gilmore responded by asking what percentage of McComb students are black — it’s more than 90 percent — and Rayborn replied, “We just don’t want to single out these brown girls.”
As for visiting a school district, three trustees said they would be unavailable to do that in February.
“I will say that I know Dr. Ellis and the staff visit those schools, and they come to visit us,” Rayborn said. She believes trustees would get better information from conferences instead of one-day visits.
As for staff members attending conferences, Rayborn said Ellis should decide. Gilmore said she’s been to school board conventions where school employees are in attendance.
Ellis said teachers, administrators and other McComb staff are eligible to attend conferences, and trustee Lorraine Gayden said the district should encourage employees to do this.