By Kaitlin Mayhew firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- Shenandoah County Public Schools are seeking discounts on utility bills from various townships because of water school officials say is evaporating, and therefore not actually being treated by town facilities.
Jeremy Raley, assistant superintendent, said that between watering the athletic fields and the air conditioning tower at Central High School, the schools are using a lot of water that is not going back into the depositories for treatment.
He said that water comes into the cooling tower and is used to cool the air. Eighty percent of that water evaporates and 20 percent goes into the sewer.
"What we are asking for is a credit on the 80 percent that evaporates into the air," he said.
The discount would represent a 50 percent difference on the utility bills, since according to Raley the sewer cost is about the same as the cost of water.
"It's a substantial savings," he said. "It would reduce our bills and [what's leftover] would be used for instructional programs."
Raley wrote letters to respective local governments requesting discounts from Strasburg and Woodstock.
Shenandoah County schools have had a standing agreement with the town of Mt. Jackson for over five years now, said Raley.
Mt. Jackson give discounts in the form of sewer credits for both the watering of athletic fields at all central campus schools, and the air conditioning tower.
Raley said there is an agreement with the town of Woodstock as well, but it only covers the watering of athletic fields.
In a Jan. 27 letter to Superintendent Keith Rowland, Woodstock Town Manager Larry Bradford wrote that Woodstock would not be entertaining the idea of additional discounts.
"The town of Woodstock is like any other utility in which we deliver a service and it is up to the consumer as to how they utilize that service," Bradford wrote.
Strasburg currently offers no discounts, and Raley said he has not heard any sort of response from governing officials there.
Strasburg Town Manager Judd Rex said that town staff is currently reviewing the documents given to them by the county and will be making a recommendation to the town council in the next couple of months.
"We're studying it and looking at what other localities do," he said.
Giving the public schools such a discount would have a financial impact on the town in that they would lose sewer revenue, but Rex said he is more concerned with the precedent it may set.
"I guess the big question weighing on staff's minds is the precedent this would set for watering grass," he said. "All of our residents use some of our water for outside watering and there's nothing that gives them credits."
Rex said he believes the town will come up with some type of plan regarding the discounts in the next two months.