Solar panels providing more than one benefit to area school district
BATESVILLE, Ark. (KAIT) - There’s no question, we all love to save money and one school district is refusing to be left out of the savings.
After a year of reducing their carbon footprint, the Batesville School District is seeing true benefits, officials said Wednesday.
This month alone with their solar plant they have created $13,000 in revenue, taking their $17,000 electric bill down to $4,000. According to Superintendent Michael Hester, their drive for the solar plant was to create revenue to find a way to attract and retain teachers in a very competitive market.
"We are not finished yet, that’s just beginning and with the revenue and the efficiencies that we have created that will help accelerate our plan,” Hester said.
With the revenue they’ve been able to save, the district is now number one in the county for starting pay for teachers at $34,000. The district also offers the most experienced steps totaling the highest pay at $53,512.
Hester said that will continue to increase over the years so the district can compete with state and national pay.
On the other hand, while those 1,483 panels are saving money, Hester says it’s also exciting students’ imaginations.
“We’re showing them how to use energy to be innovative and be efficient. So, our community is with us and our students are seeing how this is a part of the future," Hester said.
And speaking of the future, school officials said they know that children are our future and Dr. Hester says the plant will also provide curriculum and experiences for the students.
The curriculum will include studies in math, science and the most interesting, bee keeping. It will also give students the chance to explore the career of solar maintenance.
Recently, a national law has also allowed non-profits to work with other non-profits to create revenue through solar energy.
District officials have talked with both the city and local hospital on ways to lower their electric bill. Those savings will benefit those different entities and also bring in more money for the district by leasing the land.
The original plan was to save $2 million over the next 20 years and go net zero; however, these new savings and investments may make that plan a reality a lot sooner.
“We are securing our future by stepping out, taking a risk and pushing the edge. We are showing them how to use energy to be innovative and be efficient,” Hester said.
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