SCHENECTADY -- An agreement between Schenectady County and the Schenectady City School District would place a backup generator at Schenectady High School so the school can be used as an emergency shelter in the future.
The Schenectady school board on Wednesday will consider approval of a memorandum of understanding to solidify the 10-year agreement with the county.
Under the agreement, the county is responsible for supplying the high school with a portable generator that the school district is responsible for installing and maintaining. The generator will be purchased using funding provided to the county by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Schenectady school Superintendent Larry Spring said county officials reached out to the district around three years ago to discuss using a school building as a shelter in the part of the city around the high school and Oneida Middle School.
The district must open the high school for use as an emergency shelter “when deemed necessary” by Schenectady County and the American Red Cross, according to the language in the agreement.
“They need something in that area of the city, and cooperatively we felt the high school was a good place for that,” Spring said. “The fact that we sit in the community and the county says we would like to have the district be a shelter in case there is an emergency … we don’t necessarily have to have a specific benefit beyond that. We are a county resource as well.”
Still, the district may also benefit from use of the generator in circumstances that don’t rise to the level of a county emergency.
Spring said the new generator would not provide enough power to the high school to keep school running if other energy sources are knocked out, but the generator would provide power for some key systems. Parts of the districtwide information technology infrastructure is housed at the high school, for instance. The district’s central kitchen is also based at the high school, along with the district’s major supply of perishable food.
Since the generator will be set up to support the functions of an emergency shelter – not of a school – systems supporting refrigeration and cooking would be supported by the emergency generator.
“If there’s a major power interruption, we are not going to lose those critical systems,” Spring said.
The generator is slated to be installed at the high school as part of other ongoing capital work the district has planned for the high school.