GMUSD appoints new Chester director, hears results of ‘energy audit’

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2021 Telegraph Publishing  LLC

New GM board member representing Chester, Kathryn Murphy. Images courtesy of SAPA-TV

The Green Mountain Unified School District board met on Thursday, Sept. 16 and added one more member to their ranks to replace Jeannie Wade of Chester who resigned when she took a job with Chester-Andover Elementary School, which is part of the district.

On the previous night, the Chester Select Board heard from two candidates – Ben Whalen and Kathryn Murphy – and forwarded their names on to the school board. After speaking with each, the board voted by paper ballot and chose Murphy to fill the position until March 2022 when Chester voters will be able to elect someone to fill Wade’s term, which expires in March 2023.

While Murphy could not vote as a member until she takes the oath of office, she was invited to sit at the board table and take part in the discussion. Two members objected to her being invited into an executive session at the end of the meeting however.

Energy audit yields big numbers, suggests new construction

A spreadsheet of proposed projects prepared by EEI for the GM board. Click image to enlarge.


In the scheme of things, as the board has transitioned to setting out time limits on each agenda item, a 30-minute presentation is something big. And so it was with the report on an “energy audit” conducted by Mike Davey of Energy Efficient Investments of Merrimack, N. H.  The company’s website says it provides “design build construction where energy savings help pay for the improvements.”

EEI approached the school system several years ago with an offer to do a free audit to find ways that the schools could save money by being more energy efficient. On Thursday, they presented a menu of projects totaling just shy of $30 million or roughly twice the annual budget of the schools.

Davey said that there are a number of areas where the schools are not up to code because of when they were built, and suggested that the board his projects to fix that.

A substantial portion of the proposed projects were improvements to the ventilation systems and replacement of windows. Others included sprinklers and other fire safety measures, ADA upgrades and the renovation of kitchens and nurses’ offices.

And Davey also presented some “wish list” items like a $1.75 million gym addition, a $4.55 million addition of classrooms at CAES and a $200,000 softball field at the high school.

Mike Davey of EEI explains the process of assembling the list of projects.

Davey said that once you replace something like the window-mounted ventilation in the GM High School building, it makes sense to replace the windows with double rather than single pane windows. A certain level of renovation can trigger other work to bring a building up to code, he said. Asked by The Telegraph how much renovation would trigger more work and expense, Davey said that was not clear-cut.

Asked why there were so many projects that did not – on the face of it – have an energy efficiency component, Davey said that a lot of facilities decisions have to be made before you can jump into the energy items.

Superintendent Lauren Fierman said that the board would take up the suggestions at a meeting specifically for that purpose  while board member Dennis Reilly said it was good to hear which safety and ADA items are out of compliance.

‘You can’t hide behind the body of this board’

Ken Saccardo tells board members that they are personally responsible for breaking state law

Saying that board members had seven days left to rebut the claims he made in an “affidavit of fact,” Ludlow parent Ken Saccardo said he would be requesting their “financials, emails, licenses, insurances and procedures under the Freedom of Information Act.” Saccardo says he holds each of them personally responsible for violating state statute and delegating the authority to make decisions – like mandating masks – to Fierman.

Since late August, Saccardo has been attending GMUSD and TRSU board meetings claiming that the that the boards’ action in delegating authority to Fierman was not properly warned as a “policy” which violates state law. He also has said that his minor child is his “property” and threatened those who trespass on his property with a schedule of fines and fees that run in the $500,000 to $1 million range for each transgression.



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