The Bell County system joined forces with four other districts and submitted a grant application for hiring an Energy Manager. As a grant recipient, Bell County and the other districts were able to hire one of thirty-five energy managers across the Commonwealth.
The jobs are partially funded through the School Energy Managers Program (SEMP), a partnership of the Kentucky School Boards Association and the Kentucky Department of Energy Development and Independence.
The districts hired Chris Taylor to oversee energy cost, address energy issues within individual districts, and create an effective energy management plan for those districts.
The grant covers up to 77 percent of salary and benefits in the first year and approximately 50 percent the second year. Partnering districts will share the remaining costs, based on the numbers of schools per district.
Currently, Taylor is working with the Bell County School District administrative office and school staff to gather and assemble information, provide training, coaching and expertise for developing a systems approach for energy management.
The goal of the Bell County School District is to raise awareness and create a cultural change that will not only rein in energy savings now, but will also positively impact our energy future.
“We want not only school staff to be involved, but we want students to take home energy lessons and help their families make more informed decisions,” said Superintendent George Thompson.
The district is already employing measures to conserve energy costs, including cutting back the thermostat when school is not in session, monitoring water consumption, eliminating lighting in unused spaces, reviewing meter readings, and scrutinizing utility bills.
“Constantly reviewing utility bills and conserving energy will support a more cost efficient school system,” remarked Bell County School’s Finance Director Steve Silcox.
The district is planning to incorporate ideas to help support the effort, like posting energy tips on the district web-site and reminders on school billboards, holding contests for younger students, and rewarding the classroom with the greatest energy savings.
“Simply, monies saved will go back into the classroom,” said Superintendent Thompson, who called the program, “a win-win situation that is great for teachers and students.”