CVU School Board hears from students

By Lin Stone
Students held the floor and the CVU School Board’s rapt attention for much the evening during its Wednesday, May 9 meeting.
First to address the Board were this year’s international exchange students and their groups’ local leaders, Kelley Cartularo from Pax Academic Exchange and Jan Bedard from EF Foundation for foreign study. This year CVU hosted 10 students, all of whom stayed with local families for the entire school year. This year students hailed from Spain, Germany, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Norway. Several students commented that classes held more open discussions than their own schools and they experienced less formal and closer relationships with CVU teachers. EF Foundation gave the CVU School Board an award for Excellence as it has hosted more than 70 exchange students thus far. All students concurred it was a great experience, and as one noted, “I’m making many friends and improving my English too”!
Next up was CVU’s Environmental Action Club and its staff advisor Katie Antos-Ketcham. The club reported to the Board on this year’s accomplishments and possible opportunities for future savings. The club stated it had two clear goals: save energy and save money. This year the club worked to galvanize the school community to reduce its energy consumption by 10 percent with a Whole School Energy Challenge and members estimated the end of year success at about 9 percent of goal. Currently, the club estimates the Whole School 10% Challenge yielded energy savings of 124,910 kWh and approximately $13,490 in costs. Members compared this savings to 18 years worth of power for one home (based on Vermont’s average home use of 584 kWh per month).
The students stated this was accomplished without any bells and whistles or new technology and was directly the result of people changing behaviors and habits. Through assemblies, focus groups, and talks with faculty and students the group challenged the community to amend simple behaviors such as turning off lights when not using a room and shutting down computers when not in use. The club also worked with Access to try to reduce the number of HVAC zones in use during its evening classes.
Secondly, the group noted that because the school is a commercial energy user it is billed not only for its hourly consumption but also for its peak demand for energy. This is called “Demand Billing,” and the group learned that if CVU wants to save a lot more money and energy, it needs to reduce its peak demands, which typically are midday use when all corners of the school are in full operational modes – from computers to cafeteria. To this end, the club recommends investigating adding a “demand limiting system,” which is software that automatically shuts down systems when not in use. Also recommended were lower wattage and more energy efficient light bulbs throughout the school. Additionally, the group suggested a dishwasher water booster system powered by a different/natural energy source would help reduce peak hour use, as would changing the time of day for use of the school’s pottery kilns.
Board Chair David Rath thanked the group for its hard good work, asked students to return with the capital costs and estimated paybacks for these suggestions before the Board begins its budget planning for the next school year.
In other business it was noted that transportation was over budget due to gas prices and repair costs; additionally, after a short discussion the Board voted to discuss the matter of whether it is appropriate for CVU to make a contribution to the Town Police budget when it resumes its meeting in September.
The CVU Board retreat is scheduled for June 1 and its business meeting for June 26 at 5:30 pm.

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