School District 69 has confirmed its commitment to implement a renewable energy project for False Bay School on Lasqueti Island.
The school board voted Tuesday to sign a memorandum of understanding for the project between the District, Islands Trust and the provincial government.
“Being a district that has been really reliant on use of diesel and traditional power generation sources on the Island, it has been a huge cost to us,” said Superintendent Rollie Koop.
According to the memorandum, the project aims to take energy- and water-saving measures at the school, as well as look at, and hopefully implement, alternative heating systems that could reduce cost and the dependence on propane. Koop said the district has already started the process by installing new generators and improved battery systems and burners this year. Dino Stiglich, general manager of operations for the district, said the district will next install solar panels and new wiring.
The memorandum also states that the district is to develop educational programs in renewable energy and sustainability.
According to new interim secretary-treasurer Phil Turin, the project was first drafted in 2011 and is now being fast-tracked as funding has become available.
Stiglich said the province would be committing around $170,000.
In addition to the $20,000 it has already spent, Koop expects the district to supply approximately $50,000 more to the project. He also added that a recent cost analysis suggested the recovery time of that investment would be “very short.”
“I’m really excited about this project,” said trustee Elaine Young. “I think sustainability is where the future is, and green energy is where the future is.”
In other news from the school board meting Tuesday night:
• Debbie Morran of the Mount Arrowsmith Teachers’ Association and Kelly Wray of the District Parents Advisory Council both suggested the district increase opportunities for teachers, students and parents to give feedback regarding the recent school reconfigurations.
“We’re talking about successes, but we also recognize the challenges and in recognizing those challenges, we can move forward successfully,” said Morran.
“It certainly has not been lost by this board at all,” said chair Eve Flynn, who added that she could foresee spring as an ideal time for public consultation and a complete review of the changes.
• Assistant superintendent Gillian Wilson said the district hopes to have a draft of the 2015/16 school calendar available for public consultation by the spring vacation period. This year, March 13 is the last day of school before spring break.