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School board considering adding solar panels to roofing projects

The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education is considering including solar panels on some of its much-needed roofing projects.

The board also conducted a first read of an environmental policy, which recognizes that the Board of Education recognizes the importance of environmental sustainability and goes hand in hand with the proposed roofing project.

With current tax credits a number of private investors can be found to fund solar projects, according to Lane Wallace, a solar expert who has worked on similar projects at Catawba College and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

Wallace said that some tax credits will end at the end of 2015, but that new ones may be approved in the General Assembly to start in 2016.

The board discussed finding private investors to pay for the solar roof panels and installation during the roofing process, then hold them for a set number of years until the investor gets their returns through tax credits.

“We’re kind of in the sweet spot of solar,” Wallace said. “The cost of solar is very, very competitive right now.”

Although the board will need to run the decision by the Joint Planning Committee before making a final decision, they gave Assistant Superintendent of Operations Anthony Vann the go-ahead to start putting together estimates for the district’s highest-need roofing projects. He will present them at the board’s next meeting.

The board also approved hiring Eric Nianouris as the district’s new director of facilities.

Nianouris currently serves as Catawba College’s director of facilities, a position he held since 2009. He will make $80,000 a year.

Nianouris will replace Butch Bivens, who has been Rowan-Salisbury’s facilities director for nearly 30 years. Bivens is retiring at the end of January.

A start date has not yet been set for Nianouris, but he should start at the beginning of February, according to Vann.

Director of Technology Candace Salmon-Hosey laid out a plan to cut the $30,000 to $35,000 proposal to broadcast school board meetings by a third.

Salmon-Hosey, along with David McDowell, Catawba College’s assistant sports information director and director of athletic video proposed using just one stationary camera and focusing on the sound system to avoid the garbled sound quality experienced in the past.

“The state of our soundboard is called ‘vintage,’” Salmon-Hosey said.

Although the board would want a pan-tilt-zoom remote camera in the new central services building, almost all of the equipment could be used after the district’s move to the new building, McDowell said.

“Everything that we have listed is going to be transferable,” he added.

The videos will be uploaded to YouTube either that night or the next day.

The expense that raised the most eyebrows in the room was the cost of having a technology facilitator run the recording for each meeting – which could cost more than $100 each meeting due to overtime payments.

“I think the need of doing this is significant enough that the extra money is worth it of paying time and a half,” said board member Chuck Hughes.

A second proposal included contracting an independent videographer to record, edit and upload meetings for $900 each meeting, but the board showed little interest in that option.

Salmon-Hosey and McDowell will present an updated proposal, along with three competitive bids at the board’s next business meeting.

 

In other news:

  • Chief Financial Officer Tara Trexler presented the board with a timeline for the district’s 2015-16 budget. No action was taken.
  • She also discussed how teacher supplements are much lower in the Rowan-Salisbury School System than in other nearby districts. The disconnect makes the school system “less and less competitive,” she said.
  • Executive Director of Administration and Legal Services April Kuhn discussed changes to the district’s code of conduct, particularly disciplinary reassignment.
  • Vann said he expects for the district’s central services building loan to be reviewed at the Local Government Commission’s Feb. 3 meeting. County Commissioners approved the purchase of the Shulenburger property, and the Historic Preservation Committee has asked for 15 days before the building is demolished.
  • Board Chairman Josh Wagner suggested that the board consider drawing up a contract and seeking new attorney options.

“I think that’s always healthy with every service every couple of years,” he said.

The board’s current attorney, Don Sayers, has served as the board’s attorney for 41 years.

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