GCSC Board picks corn as alternative fuel

Friday, May 19, 2006

There could be more than corn in Greencastle High School's boilers when the next winter comes.

The corn-fired boilers approved for purchase by the Greencastle School Board this week are also able to burn wood pellets and cherry pits among the alternative fuels expected to cut natural gas costs incurred by heating the facility.

Greencastle Community School Corp. Supt. Robert Green told board members Mark Kannowski, Barry Fisher, Jack Berry and Mike Dean that 12 bid packages were sent out to companies in the U.S. and Canada that deal in corn-fired boilers. One bidder responded, and on a unanimous vote, the board selected Burns Best from Spooner, Wis., to provide the boilers and related equipment at a cost of $131,708.58.

That cost does not include installation, Green said, but some local businesses are expected to bid on that part of the project, estimated at less than the $75,000 threshold for a formal bid requirement. Burns Best will be able to give technical assistance on the installation, Green said.

The board began considering the alternative fuels after seeing the cost of natural gas skyrocket in recent years. Board members also visited a company in central Indiana that uses a corn-fired boiler.

The two new 2.5 million BTU units will replace one 6 million BTU gas boiler at the high school. Green said the two new boilers should be more than adequate to replace the one boiler. Each boiler has a bid that holds a 30-day supply of grain, or whatever fuel is purchased.

Green told the board he is still working on the process how to acquire the grain.

Berry suggested using an originator, an individual or company to arrange the purchase of the grain from suppliers. It adds about two cents per bushel to the cost, he said, and are responsible for the quality and quantity of the grain. It takes the school corporation out of the middle.

The board approved the bid.

Meanwhile, the board also reviewed the end of the year results from the district benchmarks in writing development and computation. For the most part, the scores showed improvements across the grade levels, but in some areas, the tests will be reviewed to determine if they are in line with the ISTEP standard test.

In personnel matters handled during the brief special session Thursday afternoon, the board approved:

-- David Lilly as head boys soccer lay coach for 2006-07.

-- Ricky Robinson as student summer custodian at Ridpath.

-- Margot Hertenstein's request for a maternity leave for the first semester of the 2006-07 school year.

-- Megan Lively as volunteer summer cheer coach.

-- Mike Schimpf as energy manager.

-- Brenda Green as part-time summer employee for bus clean up at the bus barn.

-- Judith Idle's resignation due to retirement as elementary teacher.

The Greencastle School Board regularly meets at 7:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month in the Miller Education Center, 522 Anderson St. The meetings are open to the public.

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