Belton looks to install solar panels

Special to the Democrat MissourianMay 31, 2013 

Recycling proved to be a hot topic for discussion at last month’s Belton School Board meeting.

The talks about going green continued again this month at the board’s meeting May 9, with board members confirming their commitment to energy efficiency and sustainability by giving the district permission to look into the possibility of installing solar panels.

Passing a resolution to conduct a solar feasibility study, board members unanimously voted in favor of exploring solar as a renewable energy source.

The feasibility study, which will be performed at no charge by Brightergy, a solar energy installation company headquartered in Kansas City with offices in St. Louis and Boston, is not an agreement to move forward with a solar installation, noted Superintendent Andrew Underwood. Instead, it simply gives the district the opportunity to investigate what type of solar opportunities might make sense and determine whether or not the current engineering on existing buildings in the district can handle solar panels.

“There are a lot of positives for this,” Underwood said. “We are trying to be more sustainable and green, but we will also save money in the process. With this feasibility study, Brightergy would look at our usage and give us a more accurate estimate of how much we could save. Then we can decide whether or not it makes sense to move forward.”

Prior to the meeting, Underwood explained that he had contacted several of Brightergyn’s clients that have completed successful solar installations, including John Knox Village, Rockhurst High School, Pembroke Hill, and Kirkwood in St. Louis. After speaking at length with their facilities personnel, Underwood reported that all feedback on these references was overwhelmingly positive – with everyone he talked to having nothing but great things to say about their experience. When asked how much return on investment the district could expect from a solar installation, Underwood said it could be as much as $350,000 over the course of 20 years.

In addition to passing the resolution for a solar feasibility study, the Belton Board of Education honored several high school wrestlers for earning all-conference accolades, presenting them with special student recognition certificates. On the human resources front, the board also approved the resignation and retirement of certified personnel, employment offers to certified and noncertified personnel for the 2013-14 school year, B Schedule employment for the head wrestling coach position, and horizontal advancement for two employees.

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