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Published: Tuesday, 8/28/2012

School's heat to be changed to natural gas

Switch from propane to save $40,000 year

BLADE STAFF

As part of efforts to save taxpayer dollars, Oregon City Schools soon will convert Jerusalem Elementary to natural gas from propane and fuel oil.

A $304,000 contract with Columbia Gas of Ohio to extend lines to the school was approved by the board of eduction last week.

The conversion is projected to save the district about $40,000 annually.

Dean Sandwisch, the school district's director of business affairs, told board members that the district pays about $52,000 annually to heat Jerusalem, nearly three times the cost of natural-gas heat at the district's two other elementary buildings.

The agreement with Columbia Gas calls for the utility to extend gas lines at Eisenhower Elementary on South Yondota Road to North Curtice Road, where Jerusalem is located.

Mr. Sandwisch explained to the board that it will take the school district just more than seven years to recoup the up-front costs for the gas-line construction and installation.

However, the district's full return on the investment is likely to come sooner, probably in three to four years, as businesses and homes connect into the system, Mr. Sandwisch said.

Also during the meeting, Superintendent Michael Zalar told board members that preliminary results show that the school district achieved adequate yearly progress on the state report cards.

The Ohio Board of Education is withholding the release of the school report cards pending a statewide investigation into reports of data manipulation.

The Ohio Department of Education was to release full school and district report cards on Wednesday.

Mr. Zalar said Clay High School returned to the excellent level after scoring effective last year, Jerusalem Elementary again received an excellent score, and Starr Elementary moved up to excellent from effective. Other schools in the district were effective, but close to bumping to the next grade, he said.

"This means our teachers are working very hard and the new strategies and academic plans that we have been developing through the district leadership team are having an impact. We are seeing some significant results because of that hard work," he said.

-- Mark Reiter



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