A 21st-century learning environment, school security on agenda
By John Hummer
Onsted Schools is moving forward with high energy – renewable solar energy. The district’s new solar energy project is completed. Final electrical hook-ups occurred throughout March on the one-megawatt system.
The new solar field, located behind the high school tennis courts, has a little over four acres of solar arrays, with each row of solar panels providing 40 to 50 kW of power.
“It’s big, it’s definitely big,” Superintendent Steve Head said. “It’s been exciting.”The solar field is just one part of the Onsted Wildcat Energy Project that includes 15 energy conservation categories.
The project is being funded through a zero percent interest, 15-year loan that the district qualified for through the State of Michigan that will be paid off with the energy savings that will accrue throughout the life of the project. The project is slated to bring in $3.2 million in savings over the 15 years of the loan.
The project will not only save the district money but will have a major positive impact on the environment as the district “goes green.” Environmental benefits will include 850 metric tons of carbon reduction over the first 15 years of the project. That’s equivalent to planting 820 acres of forests or powering 90 homes a year.
The economic and environmental benefits of the system will also reach Onsted’s classrooms through various STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) opportunities.
In other news, Layne German, a representative from TMP Architecture, was at the board’s March 19 meeting and looked back on what was proposed during the bond issue that was voted down in May of 2016 and floated new ideas including “innovative classrooms and what a lot of schools are looking at these days in terms of furniture, room arrangements, and repurposing media centers,” said Head. The new ideas are part of “creating a 21st-century learning environment,” he added.
Onsted is one of two districts in Lenawee County that is participating in a “transformation zone” project–one of Michigan’s top 10 school initiatives. The district is teaming up with the Lenawee Intermediate School District and the Michigan Department of Education for the initiative. Head said it’s really going to kick off in August at the start of the 2018-19 school year.
“It’s going to focus on multi-tiered systems of support for students,” he said. Head explained the three-tier system.
“Tier 1 is direct instruction done with students on a daily basis; Tier 2 is small group support for students who are struggling and need a little extra support, and Tier 3 is an intensive one-on-one support to help students get where they need to be,” he said.
“Part of it will be working on supporting our students from both social and emotional sides as well – working on the ‘whole child’ approach and making sure we’re providing as many supports we can to help our students be successful.”
Head said along with the student-centered focus of the initiative, there will be some professional development for staff included.
“It’s worth being part of the early group to do this and we’ll see where it takes us,” he said. “It’s going to force us to be reflective and take a look at where we’re really at and what we need to be doing for our kids.”
School safety and security was also a topic discussed at the board meeting. The LockOut Co., which is contracted to put in a new security system for Napoleon Community Schools, is going to present its products at the April 19 Onsted school board meeting.