Hinsdale High School District 86 officials plan to ask for a refund from a company the district hired to implement an energy conservation program.
Interim business manager Gary Yeggy said the evidence is stronger than before that the district lost money over the term of its contract with Cenergistic (formerly Energy Education). Yeggy said the district incurred $588,600 in expenses, related to the energy program, from May 2009 to April 2013.
Not only did the subsequent savings on utilities of between $350,000 and $400,000 not cover those expenses, the savings could have happened without Cenergistic’s involvement.
“The vast majority of the reduction in utility costs was mainly attributable to the lower market cost of natural gas,” Yeggy said.
School Board member Ed Corcoran said the price per therm for natural gas fell 50 percent over the course of five years.
Previously, Yeggy said the bulk of the savings came from more efficient use of electricity. The district installed more energy-efficient lighting, and adopted a commitment to turn off computers and lights when not in use.
The district also adopted a policy of keeping room temperatures between 68 and 72 degrees when heating, and between 74 and 78 degrees when running the air conditioning.
Those rules are flexible. This past week when temperatures were below freezing everyday, the thermostat was raised to make classrooms comfortable, said Hinsdale Central Assistant Principal Bill Walsh.
The committee authorized Yeggy to prepare a demand letter for a refund from Cenergistic.
Members of the staff also reported the district spent more than the average on construction management services.
The district paid Gilbane Building Co. $1.2 million last year to manage $16.9 million dollars in construction contracts, or about 7 percent, Yeggy said.
The district paid Gilbane about $139,000, or 11 percent, to manage $1.2 million in construction projects this year, Yeggy said.
When the architectural services from Perkins+Will and engineering fees are added to those amounts, the percentage of professional services expenses to construction dollars rises to between 18 and 22 percent, which is “extremely high,” Yeggy said.
Other school districts where he previously worked typically paid 10 or 11 percent for construction management.
Ten to 12 percent is the industry average, Corcoran said.
“We are saying this as a learning curve, not as a lynch mob,” he said.
Corcoran recommends the district issue request for proposals for architectural services in the future.