Entegrity via Yale Climate Connections

Solar Panels Save School Enough Money To Boost Teacher Pay By Up To $15,000

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After an Arkansas school district installed solar panels, the move saved the district $300,000 a year! What have they decided to do with the surplus in funds? Teachers in the area will receive a much-needed raise, as much as $15,000 per year according to CBS News. The raise should have an added bonus, too. Because their teachers are paid lower than in other states, the pay increase is expected help the district attract and retain good teachers.

Batesville had a particularly hard time attracting staff.

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The rural town of Batesville has the lowest salaries in the state. Michael Hester, the district superintendent, had a hard time keeping good teachers with such low salaries. He explained to CBS News that "People are obviously not in this business for the money, but they should not have a vow to poverty to teach either."

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The motivation was to raise teachers’ salaries.

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As Megan Renihan, the communications coordinator for Batesville School District, explained, "In order to attract and retain our staff, we wanted to increase the pay." The biggest expense of the schools was their utility bills — they were spending more than half a million dollars on utilities a year.

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So, the district implemented several energy savings initiatives.

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Along with installing almost 1,500 solar panels across the district, they also worked to reduce the energy they used. Lights were switched to LEDs, inefficient windows and HVAC units were replaced, and building insulation was improved. Together, this allowed them to generate half their energy from the solar panels, drastically reducing their utility bills.

"We're able to lower our monthly bill from around $17,000 a month to around $4,000," Renihan told Denver 7.

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This ensures a brighter future for the children.

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There is a two-fold benefit for the children of Arkansas. The energy savings and reduced carbon footprint of the schools is an environmental win. And re-investing that money in their education ensures that they can receive a quality education.

“And that money is going to continue to go back into our teachers’ salaries. That’s the whole goal,” Renihan says. “We want to be the best in the area for teachers, because that means that our kids are getting the best.”

h/t: Yale Climate Connections, Denver 7

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