Thomas announces intention to retire

After 24 years with USD 410, James Thomas, activities director and assistant principal, submitted his letter of retirement to the school board at their Monday meeting.

Gordon Mohn, superintendent, praised Thomas for his work, especially his duties as athletic director.

Earlier in the meeting, Thomas talked about Hillsboro High School hosting the Class 3A wrestling regionals for the first time in his years as activities director.

“We can’t let that learning experience be wasted,” Mohn said. “We’ll just have to call on you again.”

In other business, Ben Trout, president of EPM, Inc,. provided information and answered questions about a proposed new system for utility managing.

At January’s meeting, the board had appointed a sub-committee to explore the use of EMP, Inc., an engineering company that designs, manufacturers, programs, installs and services a computerized temperature-control system.

The TCS is the first to utilize total digital processing and artificial intelligence to control temperatures. It replaces all equipment controls, including thermostats and internal controls in a facility.

Reg Matz served as the board’s representative on the committee, which met twice during the past month. The committee and EPM representatives traveled Caney to visit a school that is using the EPM products and services.

“It was very interesting,” Matz said of the meetings.

Based on past performances of EPM’s CTC system and “worst case” savings analysis, the complete CTC system will generate $87,912 total savings the first year, Trout said. He is also offering the district a 10 percent savings if the system is purchased for installation by June 1.

Although Kansas does not require the district to hire an independent engineer to develop plans and specifications, seek bids, evaluate the bids received and certify the final installations, Trout recommended for protection of the district that such an engineer be hired.

The board agreed the system may be valuable, but member Bob Watson said he felt pressured by the time deadline and did not want to use an engineer picked by the product provider.

“I don’t like having the engineer dictated to us, and I don’t like being stampeded,” Watson said. “I realize 10 percent is quite a bit of money, but I want this to be a board decision.”

The board voted to accept a three-point action plan toward the purchase of such a system.

The board will retain its own engineer to develop and publish specifications for the installation of the CTS in Hillsboro High School and Middle School. The engineer will bids received and recommend to the board the installation of the most cost-effective CTS.

The board will solicit proposals from local banks and will hold a special board meeting to make the final decision and work out details.

Matz said he felt the system would be a good thing and put Hillsboro out in front with the possibility of a future energy crisis.

The special board meeting is scheduled for Feb. 28 at 7 p.m.

In other business, Mohn reported how the decrease in student enrollment since 1998 has affected the district’s state funding.

While additional staff would benefit the schools, the numbers would make it difficult to justify any increase in staff, he said.

“It is better to cut staff than to starve the employees,” he said. “Tough times are ahead.”

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