A $325,000 project to install more energy-efficient lighting has already earned the Warren Local school district nearly $100,000.
AEP Ohio customer service representative Dee Moore and Dan Fliehman with Marietta-based Davis, Pickering and Co. presented a rebate check for $97,249 at the start of Monday's regular board meeting at the administration office in Vincent. The rebate was the result of a Davis Pickering project that replaced all the interior and exterior lights in the district's buildings.
"I think we worked about 1,900 man hours, and they were all local labor," Fliehman said.
Also during the meeting, board members quietly took the first step toward a possible return of high school busing.
Warren Superintendent Tom Gibbs said the board was approached more than a year ago by a company offering to replace the buildings' interior lights at a cost of more than $400,000. That, too, would have earned a rebate check from AEP Ohio, but Gibbs said it still seemed too expensive.
Davis Pickering gave an estimate of about $325,000 for the same work. As the work progressed, Gibbs said the company was about $75,000 to $80,000 under budget, so exterior lighting was added. After the rebate check, the district will be able to offset the remaining costs of the project in about four years with the energy savings it will provide.
In other business
The service, which is not required by state law, was eliminated in 2011 as a cost-saving measure. The district expected to save about $350,000 to $400,000 in expenses, after the loss of state funding based on bus ridership was taken into account.
But the "bridge formula" put in place in 2011 after the evidence-based school funding model introduced by former Gov. Ted Strickland was scrapped based districts' funding on previous years, not ridership. Additional savings, though, were lessened by larger-than-expected declines in enrollment, at least some of which was the result of students leaving the district because of the absence of busing to and from the high school.
If the new school funding formula Gov. John Kasich is expected to unveil in February returns to a ridership-based approach to transportation, the district might not realize any significant savings by not offering high school busing. In that case, it could be brought back, Gibbs has said.
Getting the bids does not obligate the district to purchase new buses, but it would help them prepare if the board voted to reinstate busing.
Gibbs said there's about $1 million available for repairs, which could cover some or all of the work prioritized by the board's buildings and grounds committee.
"We'll know better once we have specs drawn up," he said.