Schools: Solar Project Underway in South Huntington

The  South Huntington school district’s long-planned solar carport program is underway.

Construction going on in the parking lots at Walt Whitman High School, Stimson Middle School, Silas Wood Sixth Grade Center, Birchwood Intermediate School, Countrywood Primary Center, and Oakwood Primary Center.

Maplewood Intermediate School and the James Kaden Administrative Offices aren’t included in the project because the large number of trees doesn’t allow for enough sun exposure.

The solar carports provide shaded parking while the canopy of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels overhead convert sunlight into electrical energy.  That generated electricity is metered and then “taken off” the kilowatt-hours that the  schools consume.

The State Department of Education expects districts to look for and implement programs and procedures that will save energy and provide cost savings.

After an energy audit that assessed the South Huntington School District’s energy consumption and identified areas where energy was being wasted or used inefficiently, planning and design for this project began in 2020.  It includes the installation of the solar carports, new boilers, energy efficient LED lighting, and building envelope upgrades districtwide to save money on its electric and gas bills.

“We’re excited to be able to utilize renewable energy and see a cost savings to the district.  Plus new boilers, new LED lighting, the district will benefit tremendously from upgraded energy performance,” said South Huntington Superintendent Dr. Vito D’Elia.

Johnson Controls, the energy services company that has developed and is overseeing this project, says the District will realize over 47% of energy savings from the baseline measurement period, and will save more than $707,000 per year.

The first solar carport construction started at Stimson Middle School because the new side parking lot was being installed.  Work is progressing in the parking lot by the North Gym at Walt Whitman High School.  Carport construction has begun, or is about to begin, at the other school buildings and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.  While some construction will be going on in some locations when school starts,  D’Elia says the work will be done during non-instructional hours.

The solar carports won’t only provide savings opportunities for the district, but will also provide learning opportunities for South Huntington students.  The district is looking for ways to tie the solar structures, how they work, and what they do for the environment, into South Huntington curriculum.  Johnson Controls has worked with other school districts where it has installed solar carports to speak with STEM class students and/or clubs to demonstrate how the solar arrays operate.

Support for Schools on Migrant Needs

The State Education Department said Friday that it is committed to providng support to schools related to the arrival of large numbers of asylum seekers and migrant students.

“The State Education Department is committed to collaborating with state and local governments and education and service organizations to ensure the relocated families can access education support services for students and adults to help them acclimate and become active community members. We are focusing our efforts on utilizing our Boards of Cooperative Educational Services  and district leaders to assist in the relocation process, so these families are placed in school communities with access to resources, including wraparound services for English Language Learners (ELLs) and their families. We also are exploring the possibility of providing regulatory flexibility for districts that are experiencing significant increases in their student populations, especially increases in the number of ELLs, due to this crisis.”

The Elwood school board has scheduled two special meetings for next week.

It said that a “very brief” meeting on Wednesday will consider a limited number of personnel appointments for the coming year.

On Thursday, the meeting is expected to be executive session only, with no actions taken.

Both meetings start at 6 p.m.

Poster Contest Winners

Suffolk Legislator Tom Donnelly, D-Huntington Station, recently honored sisters Abby and Adalynn Adams, students at Signal Hill Elementary School in Dix Hills, as the co-winners of the Legislative District 17 “Operation Safe Stop” poster contest.

Established in 2018, the annual competition invites elementary school students to creatively help promote awareness about the dangers of passing a stopped school bus.

Each year, one poster is selected from all of those submitted to be used as part of a countywide message to be disseminated by the Suffolk County Police Department. Entries were submitted by students from throughout Donnelly’s district and Abby and Abigail’s were selected as the co-winners.

They were honored with County Proclamations by Legislator Donnelly, who was joined by Abby and Adalynn’s parents, brother, teachers, Half Hollow School District Superintendent Dr. Patrick Harrigan and Principal Maryann
Fasciana at Signal Hill.

Leave a Reply