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Expert Perspectives on Energy and Sustainability

Coast-to-Coast: K-12 Schools Do More With Less

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Across the country, many of America’s educators face similar problems: aging school buildings and a backlog of deferred maintenance with little-to-no funding to make necessary improvements. Many facilities are 50-70 years old and serve an ever-growing student population. Beyond wear and tear, issues can quickly become more expensive and complex with each passing year. In a worst-case scenario, building equipment fails unexpectedly, resulting in a reactive, costly emergency repairs.

Faced with a list of critical infrastructure needs, how can K-12 schools find funding?

For a growing number of school leaders, the answer lies in innovative, technology-based solutions. Energy performance contracting, for example, allows school districts to dramatically reduce utility and operating costs. The districts can then reinvest those savings into infrastructure and capital improvement projects, proactivley addressing urgent needs.

School buildings are renewed with the latest technologies including water-conserving fixtures, interior and exterior LED lighting, major heating and cooling upgrades, and building automation systems, among many other innovative solutions. These improvements often generate such significant savings that districts can tackle other priorities such as replacing old windows, dilapidated mechanical equipment and outdated roofing.

Not only do these solutions bring school buildings into the 21st century, they also make classrooms much more comfortable for students and staff. And the increased comfort creates a more conducive learning environment.

Here’s a look at school districts on both coasts that have used this formula successfully.

California school district funds $12 million in improvements

Hacienda La Puente Unified School District in City of Industry, Calif., was stuck in a deferred maintenance trap that seemed impossible to escape. With more than 22,000 students and 32 schools, making sweeping improvements was going to be a big job. However, armed with a five-year infrastructure plan and support from California’s Proposition 39, the school district was able to get $12 million to tackle its most pressing needs without increasing local taxes. Additionally, the district is now saving more than $800,000 a year that it can reinvest in classrooms.

Pennsylvania school district reduces utilities budgets, secures better energy costs

Located in Coal Township, Pa., Shamokin Area School District was struggling with aging facilities that constantly needed patching just to stay operational. Studies have shown that air quality and classroom discomfort detract from student productivity, but there just wasn’t enough money to tackle the big improvements officials knew were necessary. An energy performance contract helped generate $2.6 million in savings and was combined with a $500,000 grant from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. In addition, a new energy consortium means the district can also achieve more buying power and secure better rates on energy, producing even greater savings that can be reallocated back into the schools. The district used those funds to address its top infrastructure goals and create a modern learning environment.

What are your district’s infrastructure goals and how can Schneider Electric help you meet them? Get answers to those questions and learn more about how school districts nationwide are tackling capital improvement plans at

K-12 schools funding post

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