School Board authorized to apply for Tennessee energy efficiency loan

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By Bill Short

The Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen has adopted a resolution authorizing the School Board to apply for a loan through the Tennessee Energy Efficient Schools Initiative.
Board members took the action during their March 9 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Don Lowry and seconded by Alderman Al Bell.
The motion was passed by five affirmative votes, with Alderman Mike Caruthers dissenting and Alderman Thomas McGhee absent.
The current Tennessee EESI program uses a low-interest revolving loan mechanism to fund energy-efficient renovation and retrofit projects in the state’s public K-12 schools.
At its March 2 meeting, the School Board unanimously authorized Superintendent James “Bo” Griffin to negotiate and execute a contract with Trane to make “guaranteed energy savings efficiency upgrades” and other improvements to designated schools in the district.
The contract, which will not exceed $9,615,049, will be contingent upon legal review by the School Board’s attorney and successful approval of the funding mechanism required by the city.
The School Board also authorized Griffin to pursue a loan with the EESI program and initiate the application process.
Millington Finance Director John Trusty noted that the resolution does not authorize any borrowing on behalf of the city or commit it to approve any contracts, funding or borrowing for the purposes stated within it.
He said it just allows the School Board to explore whether it can qualify for the loan and how much money the state would issue it.    
Each of the city board members received a copy of the list of items that the School Board is considering, along with a cover e-mail from Kyle Wright, chief financial officer of the municipal school system.
Trusty noted that, during the School Board’s budget process, it will be “whittling this down” and coming back to the city board with a specific request.
Caruthers asked why it was necessary for the School Board to seek permission from the city board to borrow money.
Wright said the purpose was to ensure that everyone is “on the same page” and aware of what the school district is attempting to do.
Because school districts are legally constrained on what they can do, he acknowledged that the School Board will ultimately need the city board’s approval to borrow any money.
“The working idea right now is that the school district would be responsible for the debt service,” Wright noted. “And we would just ask you to help us issue the money.”
He said the School Board’s request is “just an update” to allow it to complete its due diligence regarding which projects it anticipates will yield the largest return on its investment.
In response to another question by Caruthers, Wright said Trane prepared the list.
When Caruthers asked whether the CFO agreed with all the items, Griffin said he asked the company to put everything on the list that is “possible” for energy efficiency.
“We have issues that we have to address now,” he noted. “If we don’t, we’re going to be in a situation with all four of our schools that we’re battling right now with one school.”
Griffin acknowledged that any item currently on the list can be removed from it. But he said his administration was seeking any energy efficiency it could find to get the most “bang” for its buck.
“We wanted to make sure that we didn’t leave any stone unturned,” he noted, “so that we could have a final number to give you.”
Griffin said Trusty and Wright got together and “found the number” that will take care of many problems the school system will have during the next year.”
“We’re in a situation where we have an opportunity to make a difference not just in one school, but all our schools,” he concluded.