The South-Western City Schools board is expected next month to consider a $6.6-million energy-savings project to be funded through bonds.

The South-Western City Schools board is expected next month to consider a $6.6-million energy-savings project to be funded through bonds.

District officials discussed the proposed project, which would include replacing boilers at eight schools and installing lighting upgrades at all the high, middle and intermediate schools and two elementary schools, at the Sept. 27 board meeting.

"We completed an assessment districtwide to find ways to save money by conserving energy," Mark Waller, the district's property services coordinator, told board members.

Waller noted that replacing boilers at Grove City and Westland high schools would save an estimated $12,000 a year in energy costs at each school by having more efficient boilers. The boilers at both schools are more than 40 years old.

"Things have to be replaced and we've gone a long time at a lot of our buildings," he said.

Overall, replacing the boilers, doing the lighting upgrades and replacing air conditioning systems at Grove City and Westland high schools would cost $6,585,520, Waller said. The payoff on the bonds would take about 12 years.

Treasurer Hugh Garside told the board he has applied to the Ohio School Facilities Commission for qualified school construction bonds for the project if the board chooses to take that route.

If the district uses such bonds, Garside said after the meeting, such bonds would give the district a subsidy for paying off the bonds' interest. The bonds also have a tax-exemption feature that makes them attractive to buyers.

South-Western would be on a waiting list for qualified school construction bonds. The district can still seek another type of bond if need be, he said.

Because the bond issue would be paid for by the savings it would create, the bond issue would not need voter approval, Garside said.

Currently, South-Western spends about $5-million a year on natural gas and electricity and should save about $500,000 a year with these upgrades, Garside told the board.

Board member Jo Ellen Myers questioned the need for the lighting upgrades, which are expected to improve lighting in the buildings through reduced wattage in more efficient fixtures.

Garside responded that "past (energy-saving) projects always have been successful in getting the savings we predicted."

If approved, the project would begin next summer and take about 18 months.

In another matter at the Sept. 27 meeting, various officials discussed the district's continuous improvement plan for student achievement.

Lois Rapp, assistant superintendent for curriculum, told the board the plan has been in place for many years. The goal each year is that students have learned what they need to learn.

Principals from three of the district's best-performing schools explained how their staffs work with students and parents to maximize education.

North Franklin Elementary School principal Elaine Lawless discussed how teachers serve as coaches to help improve students' math, reading and writing in the school. For example, 60 minutes a day are devoted to math instruction. Extra help is given to students who need it.

Parents are surveyed on what they think the school should do to be better, Lawless said.

"We're committed to improving our environment of joy and hope," she said.

Mimi Padovan, principal at Galloway Ridge Intermediate School, said the school monitors struggling students daily and allows students to redo work to improve it with feedback from teachers.

"Our struggling students are the ones who don't say, 'Help!'" she said, explaining why identifying such students is so important.

Homework also is important. Parents are called if a student misses three homework assignments. If 10 assignments are missed, parents are asked to come in for a meeting, she said.

Extra emphasis is put on math and reading. Students are taught how to use calculators and gifted students have their reading accelerated.

Erik Schuey, principal at Jackson Middle School, said parental involvement is vital. Parental interest, or lack of it, can affect student performance.

"I'm a firm believer all students can learn. It's how they learn," he said.

Rapp said more needs to be done in the schools.

"I think you heard clearly tonight all the things we are doing to help the students," she said. "I believe the message is very clear from all our buildings. We're not done. ... We have improvements (to make)."