AUGUSTA — A proposal to switch Cony High School and Capital Area Technical Center from oil to a system that favors propane, natural gas and solar goes to the Board of Education tonight.

Officials estimate it will cost about $650,000 to convert the boiler at the attached school buildings to run first on propane and later — as it becomes available — on natural gas. A solar hot air system, including exterior solar walls panels, would eventually be added.

School board members are scheduled to vote on the plan to enter into a lease-purchase agreement for up to 20 years, and spend up to $649,000 to upgrade the heating system. The Board of Education meeting begins at 7 p.m. in city council chambers at Augusta City Center.

The new systems could save between $34,000 and $237,000 a year in heating costs, depending on the availability of natural gas and the price of oil.

“The savings could be significant,” said Superintendent Cornelia Brown said.

The city is also planning to convert some municipal buildings, including City Center, to new heating systems.

Brown said officials first considered converting the technical center and Cony to a wood pellet heating system. But with the potential for a natural gas pipeline system in the Augusta area, they switched the proposal to propane. Brown said the propane system could be easily converted to natural gas when that fuel becomes available.

Two firms have proposed natural gas systems for the region and the state, after invalidating its first decision, is still settling on the scope for such a project.

Projections indicate the new heating system at the city buildings would save about $34,000 in the first year with propane and $237,000 in the first year with natural gas based upon the current and projected price of oil.

Board members are also scheduled to:

* discuss current student enrollment figures;

* hear a presentation on engaging students with Title 1 programming;

* recognize Tom Hinds as the Maine Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance 2012 Teacher of the Year;

* swear in Cony student Morgan Neill as student council representative to the board;

* consider fall coaching and extra-curricular position nominations;

* consider approving the comprehensive education plan;

* consider several policy changes;

* consider student group travel requests.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

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