SAD 44 directors OK new Telstar energy loan proposal for $600,000+
The SAD 44 School Board last week approved the submission of a loan proposal to possibly fund an estimated $600,000-$900,000 alternative/renewable energy project for the Telstar complex.
The proposal for a Qualified School Construction Bond does not commit the district to take the loan, but would determine if the district is eligible for it, according to Supt. Dave Murphy.
The project would be separate from the $2.5 million energy/ventilation upgrade work approved by SAD 44 voters Nov. 6, but would be closely associated with it, he said. The possibility of applying for an additional loan for a wood boiler was discussed by the board before the Nov. 6 vote.
An alternative system like a wood boiler would mean “immediate, significant savings,” Murphy told the board last week.
The Bethel Town Office recently installed a wood pellet boiler, which is estimated to cut its energy costs in half.
Directors had considered earlier this fall bypassing the near-0 percent $1.3 million loan for the $2.5 million project in order to apply for a larger package that would include a boiler. But they decided in the end to go with a recommendation to the voters for the loan approval they had in hand.
The new loan proposal must be submitted in December, Murphy said, but “we’re not asking for a commitment.”
He said the proposal would likely be an amount greater than what would be needed to complete the project, to be sure enough funding would be available. But only the funds needed would be used.
Directors voted unanimously in favor of the plan.
Like the loan approved Nov. 6, the interest rate would be very close to 0 percent, Murphy said.
In other business at last week’s meeting:
* The board approved First Readings of proposed new or amended policies for the district. Among the topics addressed were home schooling; distribution of non-school materials; supplemental instructional materials; report cards/student progress; private students’ eligibility (for co- and extra-curricular activities and interscholastic sports); management of concussions and other head injuries; and employee use of cell phones and computers. The policy on distribution of non-school materials would prevent the distribution of material (other than by a principal) that is not directly related to activities happening in SAD 44, Murphy said. Until now, non-profit organizations, such as summer camps, have asked to have their information sent home with students, he said. The concussion policy would better define required training for sports staff as well as procedures following a concussion incident, he said.
* Directors approved an updated K-8 mathematics curriculum.
* Murphy told the board a new sound system, funded through a $50,000 anonymous donation, is now in place in the Telstar auditorium. “It’s a huge improvement,” he said.
* Under personnel appointments, James Rose was approved as a half-time math teacher at Telstar High School; Ann Costa as AES basketball coach; Karen Wilson as WES Nordic ski coach; John Eliot as THS alpine ski coach; Sarah Southam as THS Nordic ski coach; Mark Thurlow as THS head boys basketball coach; Sean Caddigan as THS assistant boys basketball coach; Brian Mills as THS head girls basketball coach; and Scott Haines as THS assistant girls basketball coach. Murphy also informed the board of the resignations of Tracy Morin as TMS Grade 7 Math Teacher and school bus drivers Scott Bouchard and John White.
Rec coach asks why he can’t coach in SAD 44
Under “Citizen Comments” at the beginning of the School Board meeting, directors heard from recreational basketball coach Michael Pelletier of Bethel, who was accompanied to the meeting by about 20 parents and community members.
Pelletier read a letter to the board questioning why, in his words, he had been “encouraged not to apply” for coaching positions in the district.
“I have been coaching most of the present girl basketball players for the past seven years through travel teams and Rec. basketball,” he said. “… In the past I have expressed to administration my desire to be involved in basketball when there were open positions. In fact there have been numerous times when they couldn’t find a coach at all. I was encouraged not to apply, and told that if I did I wouldn’t be hired.
“This year parents came to me and asked if they could get administration’s approval for me to be a volunteer with the high school girls’ basketball program, would I be interested? I said yes. They went to the principal, the principal went to the superintendent, the superintendent said I am not allowed to volunteer at Telstar.”
Pelletier said as a Rec coach, he has built participation in elementary basketball in recent years, quadrupling the numbers.
The practices and games have taken place at Crescent Park or Telstar, and he has also coached recreational baseball with games and practices at Telstar or Gould Academy, he said.
He said that being denied the chance to help with Telstar basketball “feels like discrimination toward me as a volunteer … My hope in sharing this with the board is that I will receive some clarification at a later date as to the inconsistencies in this matter.”
When Pelletier finished, board Vice Chair Marcel Polak of Woodstock, who chaired the meeting, said he would allow general comments from the audience, but “we’re not going to have a conversation in public.”
Parent Loretta Holt spoke in support of Pelletier, saying he had coached her daughter on a travel team and that she trusted and admired him.
No other audience members spoke.
Polak asked Pelletier for a copy of his remarks, and the board moved on to other business. Murphy said he would not comment.
Pelletier, contacted later, said he did not wish to elaborate on the issue.