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SCHOOLS HIRE FIRM TO HELP MANAGE UTILITY COSTS

The School Board voted 9-0 Thursday to pay Energy Education of Lakeville $11,000 a month in an effort to save about $300,000 a year in utility costs.

Energy Education offers an energy management program that proposes to reduce energy costs by monitoring utility costs, educating staff and students on energy conservation and training managers to maximize savings.

The company guarantees that energy savings will exceed the cost of the program, so no more funds would be required beyond the normal energy budget.

School Board member Mark S. Zito said that the district currently has a $4,000-a-day lighting bill. "If you would save 5 percent a month, that would be a teacher," he said.

Roy W. Rogers, business administrator, said that even though the new high school was constructed with energy-conservation measures in mind, "we've been getting bills for $58,000 a month and more" in utility costs.

In another item, the board voted 8-1 to approve a laptop-computer policy a year after students in the high school were provided them.

The policy states that the computers could be taken away from a student for reasons such as intentionally breaking them, installing pornographic material, installing games or initiating a virus.

According to local police reports, many of the computers were stolen throughout the year.

Only Zito voted against the policy. He said he did not think it was unreasonable for high school students to play games on their computers when out of school.

The policy also details what will be done if a student loses a laptop or if a unit is stolen. If the loss is the result of carelessness, that student will not receive another laptop for the remainder of that school year.

If it is stolen, the student will receive a loaner, if one is available.

In another matter, board members discussed but took no action on where to hold graduation ceremonies.

This year, as in the past, the events were held at the Niagara Falls Convention & Civic Center. However, with the recent announcement that the Seneca Nation of Indians may be temporarily operating a casino there as early as April, School Superintendent Carmen S. Granto said a district committee is studying other locations.

Granto suggested that the district hold graduation in the new high school, because there is room for it.

"It was getting quite costly there at the Convention Center. . . . It's $6,000 we don't have to spend."

However, Granto said the downside to holding graduations at the high school is that two ceremonies would be necessary to accommodate all graduates plus their guests. He stressed that the discussions are "preliminary."

Granto said he would report back to the School Board in August with a recommendation.

About 20 people attended Thursday's meeting, which was held in the amphitheater of the high school.

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