Just when we thought the Abilene Independent School District was finishing construction, the district announced it was spending $ 29 million on efficiency gains.
What does it mean?
Well, new light bulbs and heating, ventilation and air conditioning units for many facilities in the neighborhood will be replaced.
It’s part of a plan in partnership with Schneider Electric to reduce utility spending – and in some ways, the neighborhood’s carbon footprint – over the next 20 years.
The new project will pursue one of the district’s goals of the $ 138.7 million bond that ends in the coming months. In this project, $ 10 million was used to replace aging HVAC units and completely change the way Abilene High is heated and cooled.
That $ 10 million prize was not enough, and everyone knew it. So the district did the job it could afford. Now it’s time for the rest.
Aside from HVAC, lighting upgrades may be the other key action here. And that will make a lot of people happy once it does. Reporter-photographer Ronald Erdrich will be one of them, after years of photographing sport at Shotwell Stadium.
This location is included in the project, which will hopefully allow Erdrich’s photographs, spectacular in my opinion, to be even better. He did what he can in the dim, uneven lighting.
Erdrich is known to ask Abilene ISD Superintendent David Young about getting Shotwell new lights every time they see each other. Erdrich was excited when he heard the news.
Funding for the project will be twofold. First, the district will use just under $ 8 million of its own savings. The rest, Young said, will come from a municipal finance lease, with low interest rates available.
The savings, Young said, could be around $ 9 million, which means it could be a financial hit compared to the money spent in district coffers.
Young said the district savings account contained about $ 30 million in unspecified money.
Is safety a concern at Abilene High?
Abilene High School received a second threat of violence last week, delivered through unspecified means (likely social media).
Threats against schools across the country appeared to be increasing since a 15-year-old student used a handgun to attack a school in a Detroit suburb.
Young said the threats were taken seriously, with the administration immediately returning the information to the Abilene Police Department for investigation. As with the first threat, Young said, the second was deemed unfounded.
But students and faculty on campus were alarmed. Some were even fearful. It doesn’t matter whether the threat is unfounded or not, because the damage is done to the psyche of those who have to be there for hours every day.
No student, staff member or teacher should be subjected to this psychological torture, no matter what may happen on a daily basis.
After the first threat, exactly a week before that second, I asked the police what they would do to prevent these threats from being made. After all, uttering a threat of any kind, legitimate or not, is a federal crime.
I did not receive an answer to my questions.
Other parts of the country where threats have increased following the Oxford high school shooting have seen students arrested for their threats.
I hope these threats are not just investigated to verify their validity and, for the sake of the students and staff who are living their lives the way they should, will soon lead to legal action.
Taylor County Commissioner Chuck Statler, through the Texas County Judges and Commissioners, awarded three scholarships to Abilene students.
Deborah Musonera (Abilene High), Haley Michelle Burkhart (Wylie High) and Cullen McMillion (Cooper High) were this year’s recipients of the organization’s Past Presidents Bursary, with the winners each receiving $ 1,000.
Congratulations to the three winners.
This will be the last education notebook column of the year.
With universities and colleges finished for the semester and school districts over the Christmas break starting December 20, it should be quiet and dull in this part of the world.
Everyone enjoys the frivolity of Christmas and New Years. Don’t get into too much trouble.
Timothy Chipp covers education and is a general assignment reporter for Abilene Reporter-News. If you value local news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.