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Ashland City School District's Solution to Funding Needs: Get Creative

Posted on 10/5/2008

If one leaking toilet, at 30 drops per minute, can waste up to 83 gallons of water per month, imagine how many gallons of water a large school district with nine buildings could be wasting every year. In this case, just jiggling the handle is not enough.

School districts are faced with issues that most of us can relate to, but on a much grander scale – soaring energy costs, needed repairs and a budget that doesn’t stretch to cover it all. While many schools with facilities needs wait for funds from various sources, Ashland City School District decided to take action.

Through a partnership with CCG, the district is taking advantage of Ohio House Bill 264, legislation that allows schools to obtain financing for energy-efficient improvements and then pay for them through the savings these improvements net. What kind of savings can a school district expect from energy-efficient improvements? In the case of Ashland City Schools, the projected annual utility and operational savings is $333,039.

“We work extensively with school districts, and House Bill 264 is a great opportunity for districts to address needed facility improvements while reducing utility costs,” said Brian Wagner, president of CCG. “The ultimate goal is to provide a great place for learning.”

No Taxpayer Expense
“This is about being good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” says Derek Cluse, business manager for Ashland City Schools. “We can improve our efficiency and the learning environment, and still get as much life out of our current facilities as possible. And we don’t have to ask taxpayers for more money to do it.”

Taft and Edison elementary schools and the high school will have new windows and roof-mounted daylighting systems. The high school will have a newly designed hot water system and new drop ceilings with two-level, high-efficient lighting in all classrooms. All the schools will be focusing on water conservation with waterless urinals, low-flow toilets, and low-flow faucets.

Ashland Middle School, Lincoln Elementary, Montgomery Elementary, Osborn Elementary, the central office and the bus garage will focus on issues that offer short-term paybacks or address comfort or safety. This includes upgrades in lighting and building automation, and water conservation efforts.

Overall, the upgrades are saving 1.3 million pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, nearly 15,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions and almost 10,000 pounds of other noxious gases. These savings are the equivalent of taking 101 cars off the road.

Not Just About Comfort, Savings
While energy efficiency is important and research shows that comfort is conducive to a good learning environment, even those issues pale in comparison to safety. Schools are required to be in compliance with Jarod’s Law, passed to protect students by requiring strict adherence to safety issues for both school facilities and equipment. The planned upgrades will allow Ashland City School District to address issues that are covered by Jarod’s Law, such as lighting and air quality.

In tough economic times when school funding is a hot issue, Ashland City School District is proving that schools can be savvy when it comes to making ends meet, while not losing sight of what is most important.

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