Members of the Van Wert City Schools Board of Education accept a check for $41, 682.88 in recognition of lowering their energy costs. (Times Bulletin/Lindsay McCoy)
Members of the Van Wert City Schools Board of Education accept a check for $41, 682.88 in recognition of lowering their energy costs. (Times Bulletin/Lindsay McCoy)
VAN WERT - The monthly meeting for the Van Wert City Schools Board of Education was held Wednesday night at 5 p.m. in the First Federal Lecture Hall of the Performing Arts Center. The two main items on the agenda were the Robotics Club and the Energy Conservation Project. Also, the resignation of the Jefferson Elementary Secretary Joan Swank and the addition of Keith Recker as the High School Head Football Coach and full time teacher were recognized and discussed.

The addition of a Robotics Club to Van Wert High School has made an educational impact on the students involved in the program. The members of the club were present at the meeting to discuss their progress, learning experiences, and most of all present their very own robot to the board. The students worked hard from October to January, when they went to the state competition in Columbus.

Randy Gardner wanted to start a program that fostered the idea of working on projects outside of school hours. From that, they came up with the Robotics Club. Each year there is a game presented in September and teams have until the competition in October to come up with a design for a robot as well as to build and program it. This year's game challenged students to program their robot to do something on its own for 30 seconds. The robot is then driven by two remote controls and must perform a series of tasks to gain points. Students feel that they have grown through their experiences in this program, saying, "Throughout the whole process, we have to work together as a team which was especially important at state, because it's not just yourself on the line but another team as well that you have never talked to or worked with before. It really helped us to learn to communicate and work together."

This year was their first year competing, "we were rookies,"  and the team realizes that there are things that they still need to work on. They are hopeful to have more art and design included in their project next year, and their goal is to win the 2013 state competition. The Robotics Club is hopeful to gain more support from the community as their program continues to grow and get better.
Also on the night's agenda was the Energy Conservation Project. Ray Robinson was present to give a Power Point presentation over the energy savings that are now taking effect. The main goal for saving energy in the High School, Middle School, and PACS Center interiors is to focus on lighting. All high efficiency and classroom fixtures were removed and replaced as well as the gym lights and exit sign lights. By doing this, they have already seen a 44 percent reduction in the amount of wattage being used, and the lights in the gym alone reduced wattage by 62 percent. Before and after shots in the Power Point presentation show that not only are they conserving energy but the lighting is much cleaner for students in the classroom. The lower wattage numbers are not extreme but when lights are left on all day long this small number creates a big difference in the amount of energy costs. All of this together provided a discount of $41,682, which goes directly to the school district. The school board members proudly held up the large check that marks their hard work at lowering energy costs.

Also on the agenda, the board accepted the resignation of Joan Swank, the Jefferson Elementary Secretary. She is retiring after 23 years with Van Wert City Schools. Swanks retirement will go into effect at the end of the 2011-2012 contract year. While the school is losing one long-time member, they are gaining another. After an exhaustive interview process, the board recognized Keith Recker as the new head football coach for Van Wert High School. Mike, along with his wife Jodie and their daughter Molly, are excited to become new members of this community.

The next scheduled meeting for the board is March 21, 2012.