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Published: Thursday, 5/23/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

TPS weighs plan to cut energy costs

BY NOLAN ROSENKRANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The final version of performance audit of Toledo Public Schools is not yet done, but the district is already under way with several facility-related cost savings measures.

The Toledo Board of Education will likely be asked Tuesday to approve a $1.5 million project to purchase 24 transformers for schools in the district. Having its own transformers would allow the district to drastically reduce what it spends on energy costs, TPS business manager James Gant said, with annual savings of about $430,000 projected.

Administrators had estimated the transformers would cost the district about $2 million, but the winning bid came in substantially below.

"It's a lot less than we thought it was going to be," Mr. Gant said.

Mr. Gant had previously projected a 4.5-year return on investment to TPS from the transformer purchase, but that was at the $2 million cost. The low bid could mean the district makes its money back a year sooner.

Funding for the purchases comes from restricted capital dollars.

Board member Lisa Sobecki, who chairs the district's Ohio School Facilities Commission committee, said the transformer project is a cost savings the district pursued outside of the performance audit. But there are other facilities' savings the audit suggest that TPS has in its plans.

The district also has plans to upgrade its building controls system, to improve energy management at schools. The first draft of the audit of TPS showed the district spent about $7.6 million on utilities during the 2010-2011 school year, and said it could reduce those expenditures annually by about 23 percent, or about $1.7 million.

The performance audit also suggested that TPS sell off its large amount of surplus property. The district has more than 100 acres of vacant land left over from massive Building for Success program, which rebuilt and renovated dozens of schools while demolishing the old buildings.

The City of Toledo has expressed an interest in a number of those sites, and board members will be presented with a list of those properties at its monthly meeting Tuesday.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com, or 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.



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