The Forest City Community School District is now one of the first school districts to enter into the Education Energy Group Pool, a new program implemented by the state.
The district's school board approved and signed the Iowa Local Government Risk Pool Commission and Natural Gas Program Participation Agreement during their meeting Sept. 9.
According to the 28E agreement, the risk pool program was established “to pool risks and stabilize gas prices for public entities in conjunction with a Certified Natural Gas Provider and other service providers."
Superintendent Darwin Lehmann said the program, approved by the state auditor and insurance commission, allows the district to take their natural gas, which has been a general fund cost in the past, and pay for it out of the management fund.
“Each fund you can only spend in specific ways, and so any time we can save in the general fund, we can put towards instruction, teachers, supplies, and so the ability to move that out of the general fund and into the management was a huge positive for us,” he said.
Lehmann said the program is brand new in the State of Iowa, and FCCSD is one of the first schools to be engaged in the program.
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Since the program is a risk pool, the district can take what they paid last year and have a cap so if the natural gas cost this year exceeds what they paid last year, the pool covers the difference. If the cost this year is less than last year’s then they’re out of the money.
“We’re locking in our prices for the natural gas with this,” Lehmann said. “If it exceeds that price, then that’s covered by the risk pool; if it’s less than that pool cost then that covers that.
"At a time where things are very variable in our society, we think locking it in is a good budget practice for us.”
The total premium for natural gas throughout all five of the district’s buildings is $56,358, the bulk of the amount - $35,883 - going to the high school and middle school and $9,847 for the elementary school.
The term of the agreement goes from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020 and renews automatically each year for another 12-month period unless either party ends the agreement before April 1.