Thursday, November 10, 2011

An Increase in Learning from a Decrease in Energy Costs

By Sean Scarpiello

All across the United States, school districts’ budgets continue to be cut. With less and less money, district administrators are left with the task of finding ways to spend less money. To get more bang for their buck, some school districts have begun cutting back on their utilities. In fact, some districts have saved a lot of money by conserving energy. By doing something as simple as turning off lights, schools could save money which can be spent on other things.

The first and easiest way to save money through cutting energy costs is by turning off lights. In my town, all of the schools have all of their classroom lights on until around 8 o’clock at night. Obviously there aren’t any classes in session that late so it is unnecessary for the lights to be on. In New York, Desoto County Schools saved a little less than $1 million by simply conserving energy. Jim Avery, head of the energy conservation campaign, determined that schools typically spend about $1.20 per square foot on energy. He helped to lower the cost of Desoto schools energy to $1.01 per square foot. This may not sound like a significant amount of savings, but all of the small savings really add up over time.

The superintendent of the Desoto County Schools described how if teachers turned their lights off when they went to lunch, the school would save more than $100,000 in one year. All school administrators would love to have an extra $100,000 for spending on other areas in the district. Many people working in schools have a mindset like “well I’m not paying the electricity bill.” This mindset only causes more unnecessary spending.

Also, some schools keep computers on overnight and over the weekend. This is also wasteful of energy. If teachers double checked that all of the computers are off before they go home, electric bills would be reduced. Even over the summer vacation and other breaks, lights and computers which are not being utilized continue to be left on. Again, this is a source of needless and wasteful spending which can be avoided very easily.

One other way some schools are looking into saving money by cutting energy costs is through transportation. Some schools have begun to have students walk to school if they live within a one mile radius of the school. This may seem drastic but it would save a lot of money. The cost of transporting buses is expensive and if schools can take more buses off the road, the cost of transporting students would decrease significantly. Also, some school districts have spread out the starting and ending times of elementary, middle, and high schools. By having high school students go to school early, then middle school, and last elementary schools, districts reduce costs by hiring fewer bus drivers who drive more routes. By reducing the number of bus drivers, there are less salaries to pay and thus reduced costs. One school district in Columbia, Missouri has cut their transportation costs in half by implementing a similar system. Ultimately they end up saving a whopping $300,000.


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