Turning up the thermostats a couple degrees on summer afternoons could save Tamaqua Area School District more than $80,000 over a five-year period, according to an energy provider proposal discussed by the school board during committee meetings Tuesday.
If approved by the board during its regular meeting next week, the district would contract with EnerNOC Inc., an energy provider based in Boston. According to the contract, as explained by business manager Connie Ligenza, the district would take steps to reduce its energy use during times of peak load, which are afternoons during June, July, August and September.
The energy saving measure is called Demand Response. In electricity grids, Demand Response manages customer consumption of electricity in response to supply conditions. The customer is asked to reduce energy use at critical times, and as a result the utility provider saves money because it doesn't have to buy power from another source.
EnerNOC would return those savings to Tamaqua. Based on the school district's past usage, the savings could be as much as $84,000 over the five-year contract, Ligenza explained. Ligenza said that the district's solicitor, Jeff Bowe, is reviewing the contract.
In other action, Tamaqua High School Principal Stephen Toth briefed directors on changes to the district's curriculum, especially the social studies program for sixth, seventh and eighth graders. The focus of the curriculum changes is to align the timing of the courses so that students are prepared for the state's Keystone Examinations.
Toth explained that presently, Keystone Exams are given in algebra/mathematics, literature and biology. Beginning in 2014, a social studies test with an emphasis on government and civics will be included in the Keystone Exams. Initially, the social studies component will be given as a "field test" to assess students' abilities, but it will eventually be part of the Keystone Exams.
The curriculum changes will begin at the middle school, where sixth, seventh and eighth graders will study periods of American history, which will encompass related studies in geography and regional culture, and the interaction between people, places and the environment, Toth said.
At the high school level, courses will focus on American government and civics, with various related electives dependent on results of the field test added to the curriculum.
Superintendent Carol Makuta elaborated that the goal is to align the curriculum when the information is delivered to the student with the timing of the testing. The changes to the curriculum should synchronize that process, she said.
Assistant Superintendent Raymond Kinder updated directors on the district's plan to have certain district employees carry concealed weapons on school grounds.
"I have a stack this high," Kinder said, holding his hand about a foot above the desk. Kinder said he's been researching the matter by contacting other school districts, officials at the state level, the district's solicitor, and firms and schools which offer firearm training courses.
"I'm still in the gathering stage but am trying to pull it together in the next month or so."