Fuel Costs Increase Budget for Buildings and Grounds

Posted on 14 December 2011

By Claire Walla

Sag Harbor School District Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Montgomery “Monty” Granger didn’t just talk numbers when he presented his budget last Monday, December 12. He showed pictures.

As part of his slideshow presentation, Granger took Sag Harbor School Board members inside the Wyandanch School District where, through the school’s virtual building management system, he was able to display a map of the school grounds, which showed various temperatures corresponding to each room within the school building — in real time.

Granger said he hopes to bring a similar system to the Sag Harbor School District.

This was the focal point of his presentation on the 2012-2013 budget for buildings and maintenance, which as of now is predicted to see a $99,586 jump over this year’s budget. While buildings and grounds only accounts for about six percent of the school’s overall operating budget, Granger said often times the cost of energy is the most expensive part of this portion of the budget.

To further illustrate his point, Granger told the board that the district’s total energy costs for the 2010-2011 school year totaled $370,467. And based on estimates put out by the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association (NEADA), Granger said this is bound to go up by 2012-2013.

Fuel oil alone is projected to see a 28-percent jump, while natural gas costs are estimated to rise 13 percent and electricity costs are expected to be up by five percent.

According to Granger, the cost of implementing a building management system with Direct Digital Controls (DDC) would be about $500,000; however, he said the new virtual system could bring savings on energy costs anywhere from 25 to 50 percent.

This figure is imprecise, Granger admitted, because he’s unsure of how much energy the school is currently wasting.

“We currently have limited or no control over the heating of the buildings, and we have no benchmark for expenditures,” Granger wrote in one of his slides.

The program, Granger argued, would make regulating temperatures much easier and more efficient because he or one of the schools’ head custodians could monitor temperatures for the entire building remotely. Plus, Granger added, the program makes it possible to pre-plan heat regulation, essentially scheduling low temperatures during holidays when no one is using the building, even making temperatures low in certain segments of the building that may not be used as frequently as others.

Other cost increases for next year are tied to several expenditures Granger has built into the next school year: purchasing a lift, equipment replacement, new high school lockers, new boiler burners, purchasing a sod cutter, replacing doors and installing new wall padding in the Sag Harbor Elementary School gym.

“I have a significant increase in next year’s budget,” Granger explained. “But, I have some significant needs.”

As far as athletics are concerned, Granger — who also acts as the school district’s Athletic Director — said next year’s proposed budget will be kept relatively flat, only going up by about $22,000.

“We are proposing the same number of teams as we currently have,” explained school superintendent Dr. John Gratto.

According to Granger’s presentation, the school district currently fields 50 teams, with most student athletes participating in fall sports — 245 students, versus 170 in the winter and 146 in the spring. And Granger noted that the number of female athletes is greater than the number of males in both the fall (by 25) and the winter (by 30), while the boys outnumber the girls 86 to 60 in the spring.

Though nothing is set to change for next year, Dr. Gratto added that it’s still early and the impending threat of the two-percent tax cap could rock the boat.

“This is certainly going to be a tight budget year,” he added.

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