District 205 recognizes first African-American board member, approves solar panel contract

The District 205 Board of Education took some time at Monday night’s meeting to recognize a former member and the first African-American board member Joan Milam Kelley.

School Board President Tianna Cervantez recognized Kelley, who passed away in 2013, and presented a plaque to her daughter Karen Kelley-Ariwoola.

Kelley-Ariwoola spoke on the struggles her mother met when she came to Galesburg in 1958 looking to continue teaching.

“My mother had a degree in music education. She graduated from Hampton University. She had several years of teaching experience and she wanted to teach music. But, she wasn’t hired and she felt strongly that it was because of her race.”

She would start working for the Department of Children and Family Services and eventually chose to run for the school board in 1969. Kelley served on the school board from 1969 to 1977.

Once the meeting got underway, board members would approve an energy purchase agreement from Clean Energy Design Group.

Superintendent Dr. John Asplund presented the board with the final draft of the contract with the solar energy supplier that would see solar arrays go up at Lombard, Steele, Galesburg High School, and the district offices on Lincoln Street.

The contract states that 205 will pay for electricity from the solar panels at a cost of $0.0265 per kilowatt hour at Steele, Lombard, and the district offices. While the cost of energy at GHS would be $0.0375 per kilowatt hour. Annually, the rate will increase by one percent.

Asplund says that the district will see some “astronomical” savings very quickly.

“The savings for next year would be astronomical, already we’re at over $100,000 in savings in year one,” Dr. Asplund told board members. “And, that’s just by allowing them to put it in. So, there are other savings that would be realized from that as well that we cannot put into numbers.”

Some of those other savings include the capacity charge – which relates to the highest point of usage in the year. Asplund says the district has no way of knowing what that number will be as of now.

The term of the contract is 15 years, with two 5-year options available to the district after. Asplund says that there is very little risk for the district with this plan.

He says that the only real risk is if Ameren’s power bill drops below the rates of Clean Energy Design Group, which goes against the trend.

The school board also approved the prevailing wage resolution, the property casualty insurance, and workers comp insurance resolutions.

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