Alamo MAC hears from schools chief


The decision will be made soon on whether to install solar panels at Monte Vista High and some other schools in the district, and Superintendent Steve Enoch said it is probably a go.

Talking to the Alamo Municipal Advisory Council this evening, Enoch said that solar wasn't even on his radar until the state offered low interest "Qualified School Construction Bonds" in the amount of $25 million to individual districts as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Enoch said that 240 school districts applied for the bonds and 44 names were drawn, including the San Ramon Valley Unified School District.

"The cost to the School District is 1.5 percent interest that we have to pay back, along with the principal," Enoch said.

He stated that he approves of the project.

"I think we should be good stewards of our environment," he said. "Of course we need to make sure there is enough savings each year and enough to put in a 'sinking fund' for when they need to be replaced some day."

He said a diligent committee has been meeting with solar energy experts, and the informal recommendation is to move forward. However, he noted, "I have my say, the board gets its way."

The plan at Monte Vista is to install carports over student parking areas with fixed tilted solar panels on top. Some have trackers that follow the course of the sun.

Enoch noted the irony of talking about the investment during this tough budgetary time, but remarked that this low interest loan was "use it or lose it."

He said that no matter what discussions take place in the district, the big elephant in the room is its looming $30 million shortfall over the next two years.

"It's the same at most public agencies, we're all in this together," he said. "I try not to get on the bandwagon and beat up our legislators - too much."

He said they are anticipating bad times for the next three years, but that SRVUSD is better off than some districts because it is growing. It added 1,000 students this year, and 1,000 last year, he said, with all of the growth in Dougherty Valley.

He noted that there are three ways to save money in a school district:

1. Cut programs and services

2. Raise class sizes

3. Make salary concessions

"We can't get there until we talk about labor costs," he said. "We're having serious conversations with the employee organizations."

He said the goals are to keep people employed; to keep class sizes down; and to maintain solvency.

"It's disheartening to me at a really deep level," he said. "I don't believe our teachers and employees are overpaid."

And he remarked that he believes in the value of smaller class sizes.

"We're losing more than $800 per student - it will show up somehow," he said.

"Are school closures on the plate at all?" asked MAC member Steve Mick.

Enoch said he has pushed out a lot of ideas, including choosing a school to convert to a preschool learning center but the idea was very new to everyone.

"I don't know if we will go there," he said.

Enoch said he doesn't see Alamo Elementary being targeted, as it was 25 years ago, because it is sitting by itself at the far north end of the district.

He also said he knows that renovations still need to be done at Stone Valley Middle School. Although this is a good time for construction due to competitive bidding, he explained, no one wanted to talk about a bond election at this time.


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Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of Danville
on Mar 3, 2010 at 7:07 am

This is off topic but I need this question answered. Is it true that a kid brought a gun to SRVHS and was not expelled?

Like this comment
Posted by Ralph N. Shirlet
a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2010 at 8:00 am

Dear Dolores,

We all appreciate humor. A national movement has been started to open-carry glass bottles in the shape of "six-shooters" filled with gum balls. By law these open-carry enthusiasts have to carry their "ammo" as gum balls in their pockets. The glass bottle gun is available at Cost Plus and fits typical holsters used by open-carry gunslingers. It has become a sticky situation..(smile)

..and now we return to the regular portion of our program:

The issues not addressed by Steve Enoch or through MAC member questions last night are:

#1 - What specific efforts are being made to retain teachers as the primary priority of education versus the real estate business of schools. What is the ratio of teacher-to-administrator lay-offs?

#2 - What expertise for Solar PV power generation is available within the district's facilities organization? Who are the Solar PV experts advising the district's board? What efforts have been made to combine the Solar PV bonds with other government and industry incentives to lower costs further? Has the primary option of placement of panels on existing structures been reviewed and budgeted for cost savings in installation and operations?

One HAL of a guestion, one after another, right?

The ROFL in Ralph N. Shirlet

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Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of Danville
on Mar 3, 2010 at 11:09 am

Really, so are you saying this was a conservative kid making a statement with a gumball gun? Well then no problema. You see, that's what the media is for. To clear things up. I'm sure someone can understand why I was shocked to hear only that a kid brought a gun to school. He didn't bring a gun. He brought a gumball machine. I didn't know about this specific open carry movement. Interesting

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Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of Danville
on Mar 3, 2010 at 11:12 am

Back to business. It's a ruse to focus on administrative costs when they are a minute fraction of teachers salaries. I think going with green energy is an intelligent investment, both monetarily and in terms of pollution. Just know adminstrators that most of the community would be so happy if you took on the teachers unions, we'd be happy to see you get bonuses

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Posted by Ron
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 3, 2010 at 11:39 pm

Disgusting to see the school district even consider solar - and even more disgusting to see people blithely ignore the idiocy of such an "investment". Just where is the money coming from? The Tooth Fairy? No, it is tax money from a vastly indebted State. This inane "thinking" by bureaucrats is the exact reason California is a basket case.

As for the so-called teachers, fire every fifth one right now. About time the rest of the slugs, er, teachers, start earning their paychecks.

Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Hubbard
a resident of Danville
on Mar 4, 2010 at 4:27 am

I like mac, especially mac & cheese. Does the school's chef have any recipes to share?

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Posted by L.C.
a resident of Danville
on Mar 4, 2010 at 8:45 am

The low interest Qualified School Construction Bonds that the district may use for solar are part of a federal stimulus package. Money saved from the district's energy bills will be used to pay back the bonds. Projections show that no money will come out of the district's general fund to pay for the bonds, and that because right now construction costs are low and there are generous PG&E rebates available, the project may generate significant revenue for the district's general fund. It is exactly the kind of forward thinking that is necessary in these times of budgetary crisis. Irvine USD just approved a solar project that projects $17 million in savings over the next 20 years.

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Posted by Barth
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Jerry's been a long time! Our friend Happy (you know, "Happy Kyne and the Mirthmakers", uses the following recipe at his Taco and Run restaurant:

I can't vouch for it personally, but Happy seems to be happy with it.

Like this comment
Posted by F. Olivas
a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Mar 4, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Hopefully, when one looks at the costs of installing solar panels, one will use prudent insight to find ALL THE HIDDEN costs which will be there when the "Use it or Lose it" approach is done.
For example, will the Use it or Lose it provide long term funding for technical maintenance? Does the district have the expertise to maintain the installation of solar panels or will the there be added costs to hire outsiders? Was a complete and thorough cost analysis done including costs which will surface many years down the road? Will these hidden costs only surface down the road which will be moved over to the general fund impounding the overall money for instructional purposes? How much money needs to be set aside for replacement of panels as they begin to deteriorate?
Certainly by now all these costs are by have been evaluated and reported some where for all to read.
Have they?

Like this comment
Posted by Alamoan
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 5, 2010 at 5:40 pm

I'm with you F. Olivas. The school board always seems to gloss over or ignore the hidden costs. A perfect example was the replacement of low-tech overhead projectors with LCD projectors. The board buys them, gives them to schools and never considers the cost of replacement bulbs which run around $300 apiece and must come out of the schools budget. Since the projectors were all purchased at the same time, many of the bulbs burn out around the same time, leaving the schools with a big, unplanned expense.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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