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FWCS plan saving power, funds

A plan to teach Fort Wayne Community Schools’ educators and students to shut off the lights, power down computers and help reduce energy use has saved the district hundreds of thousands of dollars, even after the expenses associated with the program.

Steve Smethers, Energy Management Coordinator for FWCS, told board members that from April 2012 to March 2013, the district reduced energy use by 15.5 percent.

In the spring of 2012, board members approved a contract with Performance Services, Inc. and hired two energy managers to oversee the program.

The district pays $205,000 each year to participate in the Energy Leadership program, according to FWCS Chief Financial Officer Kathy Friend. The total cost for the program, including the two energy managers, is about $367,000.

Even with the expense of implementing the program, Friend said the district saved an estimated $500,000.

“It was a difficult decision to make the investment in the Energy Leadership program,” she said. “However, the results have far exceeded our original expectations and will provide much needed relief to the general fund.”

FWCS also had three schools – Lakeside Middle School, Northrop High School and South Side High School – that were recently recognized as Energy Star Schools by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as a result of the Energy Leadership program, Smethers said.

Energy Star Schools must meet a score of 75 or better to qualify for the award, he said. Scores are based on overall energy savings.

Lakeside Middle received a score of 92 and Northrop’s score was 86. South Side was also recognized for a score of 80, Smethers said.

The board recognized each school during Monday’s board meeting.

Attorney contract approved by board

Also on Monday, the board completed a long-standing working agreement with an independent contractor for legal services.

William Sweet was named the district’s full-time in-house general counsel in June 2003.

According to the agreement, Sweet will continue to serve the district in the areas of collective bargaining, human resources, student matters, special education, business matters and legislation and will supervise litigation not covered by district insurance.

He will also attend school board meetings as requested by Superintendent Wendy Robinson.

He will be paid $144,000 annually, a reduction in his current pay of $250,000, Friend said. The agreement ends June 30, 2016.

Board president Mark GiaQuinta on Monday explained that the decrease in Sweet’s pay is a result of shifting responsibilities another attorney, Tim McCaulay. McCaulay’s contract will be approved at an upcoming board meeting.