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District Defrauds the State

·         I am a teacher, so I must keep this anonymous:
Once everything was available to the public, anyone can perform a relatively simple audit (don’t know why their district auditor didn’t ask about this) of some past expenses for the district. 
 I see that the district has “shown” an attempt to be green in other schools besides their flagship River Crest. They paid for energy audits to be performed and found after many changes they could save in the HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of dollars a year. Yes, 4-5 new teachers could be paid. The major expenses are poor and out of date water use and the biggest was high peak demand energy uses mainly at the middle and high school. See, schools pay for energy differently than a home.  They pay a rate per Kwh (like we do) and a base price for peak demand based on whenever the school creates a high peak during the day, then that highest peak price is what they pay for 6-12 months.  Mr. Tim Erickson (head of finance for the district) and Mr. Jim Stejskal (head of maintenance) were instructed on how to change this and reduce it by upwards of $40,000 a YEAR, just the peak.  None of which was ever done. This would be accomplished through efficient kitchen appliances, pool pumps, air conditioning systems not frankensteined together like in the High School and teaching someone to actually use the computerized system effectively that controls environment at the middle school and making sure the shop machines (welders, cutters etc. high energy uses) are not used when the kitchen is in high gear.  Mr. Tim Erickson and Mr. Stejskal disregarded all of this, maybe because those changes could not be seen by the public. Instead they made an effort to upgrade the highly out of date and inefficient fluorescent lights and the ballasts (which start and regulate the electricity). This mean changing all common T12 bulbs to T8 bulbs and changing out two ballasts per fixture. This would be thousands of bulbs and ballasts. A valiant effort and one that the state recognizes enough to give a massive incentive check (enough for a new teacher) back to the school for completing these upgrades. Upgrades were reported complete and the district received their checks from Focus on Energy, a state funded program for energy use. These were written by Charlie Schneider, Focus On Energy Program Manager, (715) 720-2176, with the knowledge that the work was completed. Three summers later, the work was actually completed, but the district got their fat incentive check each year anyways. Back in my day we used to call this defrauding the state. Mr. Erickson must call it something else. That would be like, “ I intend to complete my Master’s Degree within three years, so could you please pay me my increased salary now because I have good intentions.”

·         The other major energy savers in the schools that were suggested have still not even been addressed. Including one that every other school district around here has, being able to turn half the lights off per fixture in a room or hallway. That was the other major energy saver. It should also be noted that changes can be expensive, (probably why Mr. Erickson spread it over three years) but all changes would pay for themselves within 3 YEARS. To reach the school district call 715-377-3700.


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