CATAWISSA R.R. - Southern Columbia Area School Board has approved getting a loan for energy improvements throughout its buildings to save approximately $2 million.

At its meeting Monday night, the board approved two motions, first a performance-based energy savings agreement between the district and McClure Company mechanical contractors and engineers.

The scope of the work includes districtwide lighting, building "envelope" (the physical separators between the conditioned and unconditioned environment of a building) upgrades, plug-load management, upgrades to the heating and ventilation systems in all the district buildings and the repair and replacement or repairs of leaking roofs in each building.

The district expects to save approximately $6,271,972 over the next 20 years. During the discussion on the contract, however, director Charlie Porter had a lot of questions for McClure representatives.

Porter said directors just got the contract from McClure over the weekend, despite it being at the district office for two weeks, according to the representative.

"There are a number of things here that I just don't agree with," Porter said. "This is the only chance we have to discuss this because the contract was drawn up quicker than any other project we've done, so I hope I don't bore anyone."

Porter and the McClure representative went back and forth for about 20 minutes on a number of items in the contract including comparing prices for oil and propane and lighting in the room.

"I would like to see something added that any light bulbs exchanged either meet or exceed the number of lumines, and that the footcandles in the room be equal or greater than when we started the project," Porter said.

He also has a problem with the contract stating some rooms would be lit from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day now in order for McClure to establish a base rate to determine energy savings.

"I talked with our high school principal and our building and grounds supervisor, and they hadn't seen the numbers, but there was no way these hours of use were effective," Porter said.

After the discussion, Porter made a motion to table approving the contract for one week so district personnel can review McClure's figures.

"If you do that, you might as well permanently table the entire project," said Timothy George, buildings and grounds supervisor. "If we want to start this project this year, we need this time to make the procurement."

Porter's motion died for a lack of a second, and the board voted on the contract, approving it 7-1 with Michael Yeager, John Yocum, Joe Klebon, Timothy Vought, Thomas Reich, Charlene Cove and Gail Zambor Scheurch voting yes and Porter casting the lone dissenting vote.

To pay for the improvements, the board approved a resolution authorizing a 20-year loan from First Columbia Bank and Trust Co. for $4,701,650. The interest rate will be 2.1 percent for the first five years, then change to 3.6 percent in April 2019 and 5 percent in 2024. Approval of the resolution came via the same 7-1 vote.

In other business:

- The board approved new rates for the district's health insurance for employees and appointed First Columbia Bank and Trust Co., the Pennsylvania School District Liquid Asset Fund, the Pennsylvania Treasurer's INVEST program and M&T Bank as district depositories for the coming school year.

- A performance audit report from the state's auditor general office for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years was discussed. Auditors found that reporting errors in pupil membership and a lack of internal controls in reporting resulted in the district not receiving approximately $31,000 in funding.

District officials said a new computer program has been purchased that has taken care of the problems, and that the past information was resubmitted so the district should receive the money.

- Cove was named board treasurer for the 2014-15 school year at a yearly stipend of $240 and Richard J. Roberts Jr. was reappointed as solicitor at a rate of $105 an hour.

- Accepted were the resignations of part-time paraprofessionals Raymond J. Bressi and David Fegley, and the retirement of full-time bus driver Susan Welkom, who had been with the district since 1980.

- Gabrielle Bagnell was hired as supervisor of custodial services at an annual salary of $34,000 with benefits per the supervisory staff handbook, effective May 20. Also, second-shift custodian Adam Latchford was moved from part-time to full-time employment status effective May 5.