School Board Talks Energy Audit, Math Changes in Brentwood
The Brentwood School Board met on Tuesday night to address important changes in energy management, long-term facility renovations and middle school class scheduling.
Talk of energy management, facility renovation and a curriculum change for middle school students dominated the discussion at Tuesday's Brentwood School Board meeting.
The meeting began with information about an energy management audit. Representatives from Talisen Technologies and Murphy Company—organizations that the district hired to act as consultants—laid out plans to reduce energy use in Brentwood schools, funded in part by a grant from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources obtained by St. Louis County.
The sustainability project will enable the district to reduce fossil fuel emissions, improve energy efficiency and create and retain jobs, according to Robert Tudisco, project manager with Talisen Technologies.
Sam Welge, energy solutions manager with Murphy Company, detailed plans to retro-commission existing buildings.
"Retro-commissioning is taking what's in the buildings and making them operate better to reduce cost for the district and the facilities," Welge said.
Project goals include improving the learning environment and efficiency of buildings, Weldge said. The assessment came with a $46,000 price tag, with implementation costing roughly $98,000.
Additional capital considerations included lighting upgrades, a heat pump loop bypass, wiring replacement, and replacement of rooftop and heat recovery units.
"If you're looking at reducing energy costs, you have a lot of buildings with aging systems," Welge said.
Superintendent Dr. Charles Penberthy discussed plans for future school renovation projects.
"I don't think we're ever going to be able to build two new elementaries, a middle school and a high school," Penberthy said. "First of all, where would you put them? Secondly, that would cost a ton of money. Thirdly, I don't know if our patrons would support the kind of tax levy it would take to do that."
Penberthy said the district will likely need to upgrade existing buildings instead.
"Our facilities were designed 50-to-60-plus years ago," he said. "Lots of our spaces don't fit the program needs that we have ... I would like to get an architect involved to look at our classroom spaces."
Such a project would enable schools to maximize student flow and enhance the cosmetic appeal of classrooms—creating a "bright, warm, inviting facility to work in," Penberthy said.
He said a project would last several years—the investigative phase could take up to two years alone.
"We're going to need to get staff involved, parents involved and experts involved in looking at our facilities," he said. "I'll put a price tag of $15 million out there just as a discussion starting point."
Penberthy received unanimous support from school board members to begin researching facility upgrades.
Curriculum Changes at Brentwood Middle School
Julie Sperry, principal of Brentwood Middle School, presented a plan to the board to increase the number of hours per year that middle school students spend in math classrooms.
Sperry's new plan revises the current block schedule—teaching middle school students math two or three days each week—to a modified block schedule in which students are in math classes every day.
The measure will "increase the number of math minutes to levels comparable with elementary and ninth grade students," Sperry said.
Because school days are not being lengthened, accommodating the additional math hours would mean cutting language arts studies at the school.
Sperry said English and literature classes, which are currently separate, will be combined into a communications arts class. Teachers are supportive of the change, she said.
"I know Julie has been working very hard on this," Penberthy said. "The one thing I told her was that I was not going to employ additional staff, so they had to work with the staff that they had. There will be some changes in some schedules."
An incidental benefit of the change from block schedule to modified block will relieve noise-sensitive students.
"Bells aren't going to exist," Sperry said. "The hall won't be as crowded all the time because there won't be a mass dismissal."
Sperry said she'll hold parent meetings to discuss the changes.