Arkansas Schools Install Solar Panels to Save Millions On Energy and Pay Teachers More
An Arkansas school district saved so much money by switching to solar power for their buildings that they were able to increase their teachers’ salaries and eliminate their budget deficits.
The Batesville School District in Arkansas switched to solar power in 2017 when, following an audit by an energy efficiency company called Integrity—They found they were spending $ 600,000 a year on electricity among six school buildings, while simultaneously running a budget deficit of $ 250,000.
Batesville Superintendent Michael Hester, who knew that teacher pay was low, leading to rapid staff turnover, pulled out a bond to help fund the switch from conventional electric power to renewable energy in the form of 1,400 photovoltaic solar panels.
In just three years, Hester’s gamble turned a quarter-million-dollar budget deficit into a $ 1.8 million surplus, which she used to help raise teacher salaries and even her district’s test scores like result of being able to retain quality teachers. . The surrounding districts proceeded to follow Hester’s lead and installed solar panels themselves.
Living near a coal plant that will close in a decade, managers were concerned about what public opinion might be about the change, but instead found a sympathetic population that understood, according to a report, that solar energy represented the jobs of the future.
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Batesville joins several other school districts across the country that are switching to solar power. At the end of 2019 in the US, 5.3 million children were attending schools that ran on solar electricity.
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