New roof, solar panels to be installed at Woodland Intermediate as soon as June
The Woodland District 50 school board approved a $317,200 plan to install a new roof and solar panels atop Woodland Intermediate School in Gurnee.
The panels were originally going to be installed on the school grounds, but Chris Bobek, the district's associate superintendent of business services, said that when the school district went to the village's zoning board earlier in the spring, several members opposed the plan.
"The village likes the roofing solution a lot better," Bobek told the school board Wednesday night at a remote meeting. "They had concerns about safety and the loss of fields for students under the ground-mount plan."
The school district has been working with Siemens Industry Inc. for about two years to install solar panels at several buildings. The roof on Woodland Intermediate is about 20 years old and about five years from needing to be replaced, so school district and Siemens officials initially decided it would be prudent to install the panels on the school grounds.
Bobek said once Siemens officials heard there was opposition to the plan, they offered to split the cost of building a new roof on Woodland Intermediate with the district. Had the panels been on the ground, the district would not have needed to pay for installation.
Under the plan, Siemens will own, operate and maintain the solar panels, while District 50 will purchase the energy at a fixed bundled rate significantly lower than what it now pays. Officials expect the plan to save the district more than $4.3 million over 20 years.
"I think this is the best possible outcome," board member Joe De Ross said at the meeting. "The financial savings just from the solar were already going to be a really great plus, but now having half the roof taken care of by Siemens, that was eventually going to be a much greater cost for the district."
The solar panels will be incorporated into the curriculum.
Bobek said Wednesday that if Siemens officials are able to get the proper permits in time, the roof replacement work could start as soon as early June.