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ITSD Energy Project Called Into Question

Stokes Teacher O’Loughlin Earns State Teacher of the Year Award

The Island Trees UFSD’s decision to agree to a $5,046,697 contract with Johnson Controls, Inc. for an energy efficiency project came into question at the Wednesday, Oct. 26 Board of Education meeting.

“We spent five million dollars on an energy efficiency project.” Island Trees resident John Fontana said. “In this tough fiscal event that we’re facing, this was ill-timed.”

Fontana was the only speaker in the Public Comment portion of the evening, and he seemed to hint that the agreed-upon contract may lead to tax increases in the near future. Fontana, a retired New York City Corrections Officer and experienced construction tradesman, is known throughout the Island Trees community for his staunch anti-tax stance.

Under the terms of the contract, energy usage will be reduced by 45 percent with district-wide conservation measures in mind. Potential energy, operations and maintenance savings is estimated to be more than $6,513,710 over the next 18 years. In addition, the project is expected to generate $1,259, 882 worth of positive cash flow for the district, which may be used to pay for new equipment and supplies.

The multi-year contract calls for Johnson Controls, Inc. to provide lighting upgrades, weatherization, energy management system upgrades, insulation of steam pipes, boiler controllers, steam trap repair, window film, computer power management, kitchen foot pedals, solar panels and more.

Will the initial costly investment in these tough economic times pay dividends to the Island Trees School District and its residents in the long-term? The Board of Education did not offer a response to Fontana’s comments at the Oct. 26 meeting, but the Levittown Tribune recently quoted Superintendent Charles Murphy, saying, “The district is excited to get this project started. We have been working on it for two years and look forward to the upgrades to our facilities.”

In other matters, the Board of Education recognized Island Trees Teacher Therese O’Loughlin for her dedication and hard work for the district. O’Loughlin, a grade one through eight teacher at Michael F. Stokes Elementary School, was recently named a finalist for the 2012 New York State Teacher of the Year Award and the board presented her with a Certificate of Achievement. “We can only describe her work in superlatives: wonderful, terrific, outstanding,” Superintendent Murphy said, in reference to O’Loughlin’s masterful approach to teaching. “She has an innate ability to get through to students, especially those with special needs.”

The board approved the donation of a memorial headstone from the Island Trees High School Football Alumni Association, which will list the names of the many fallen heroes from the Island Trees School District. The headstone, which is valued at $2,000 dollars, will be placed next to the Island Trees High School flagpole.

Several community-based organizations were also given permission by Superintendent Murphy and the school board to use the district’s facilities during the 2011-12 school year. Island Trees Soccer Club, Football, Travel Baseball, Baseball/Softball, Nassau County PAL, Levittown Athletic Club, Island Trees Baseball, Environmental Club, Varsity Wrestling, Girl Scout Troop 3511, Youth Wrestling, Theodore Roosevelt Council Boy Scout Troop 323, Girl Scout Troops (3540,3633,3385), PTSA, Nassau BOCES High School Soccer, and the Nassau County Civil Service Commission were each granted permission to use Island Trees’ fields or district buildings, as needed.