School board approves new solar farm, assistant principal hiring

Emma Keith / The Transcript

Norman Board of Education members discuss plans for a new solar farm during Monday's meeting.

Norman Public School officials introduced a sustainable energy partnership to partially power schools and selected a new assistant principal for Irving Middle School during Monday night's board of education meeting.

The Norman Board of Education approved a partnership between the district and Oklahoma Electric Cooperative (OEC) Monday, allowing the district to lease 15 acres of land to OEC for a solar farm.

The farm will be home to 7,208 solar panels, which will offset about 30% of the district's total energy use. Put another way, it will be enough energy to meet about 95% of energy needs at Norman's two high schools, according to the district. Construction on the solar farm, which will be on district-owned land in west Norman, should be completed by late 2020.

The partnership is the latest in the district's conservation and sustainability efforts, which have created a cost avoidance of more than $2.8 million so far, NPS chief operating officer Justin Milner told the board.

"We are well aware that we live in a community that values energy conservation," Milner said.

The board also named Shari Gateley the new assistant principal at Irving Middle School on Superintendent Nick Migliorino's recommendation. The school's former assistant principal left the district for a government position.

Migliorino said that Gateley, who currently teaches at Putnam City West High School, was one of 33 applicants for the position. She will take over the Irving Middle School position by January 2020.

During Monday night's meeting, the board also heard updates on the district's budget, calendar and bond spending. Chief financial officer Brenda Burkett walked the board through spending within the 2019-2020 budget, noting that the district grew by 204 students from fall 2018 to fall 2019.

Milner told the board that the district is still within its budget on bond-funded roofing projects, the latest of which the board moved forward with Monday. After going through a bidding process with the district, Alva Roofing Co. will complete partial roof replacements at Alcott and Whittier Middle Schools for $1,336,000.

In an administrative update, Migliorino said the district is "moving forward with a lot of different areas" within the 2019 bond, most recently with a makeover for Dimensions Academy's brand and mascot.

Migliorino also told the board that in an effort to better address the national worry of school violence, NPS will begin providing a quick link to Norman Crimestoppers on district-issued student and teacher devices starting in the next week. Device users will not be able to remove the link from their screen, and the option will allow students and teachers to report situations as they occur, Migliorino said.

"[School violence] is something that's real in today's world, and something that we're very conscious of and continue to work on," Migliorino said. "...[We're] just taking another step toward providing effective communication, because we know in all situations, the faster the communication, the better the outcome if a situation occurs."

Emma Keith

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Follow me @emma_ckeith

ekeith@normantranscript.com

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