An Arkansas school district saved so much money from switching to solar power for their buildings, they were able to bump up their teachersâ€™ salaries and eliminate their budget deficits.
The Batesville School District in Arkansas switched to solar power in 2017 whenâ€”following an audit by an energy efficiency company called Entegrityâ€”they discovered they were spending $600,000 a year on electricity between six school buildings, while simultaneously running a $250,000 budget deficit.
Batesville superintendent Michael Hester, who knew faculty pay was low, causing a quick staff turnover, took out a bond to help finance a switch from conventional electric power to renewable energy in the form of 1,400 PV solar panels.
In just three years, Hesterâ€™s gamble turned the quarter-million dollar budget deficit into a $1.8 million surplus, which he used to raise teachersâ€™ pay and even the test scores of their district as a result of being able to hold on to quality teachers. The surrounding districts proceeded to follow Hesterâ€™s example and install solar panels themselves.
Living near a coal-fired plant set to close in a decade, the administrators were worried what public opinion might be regarding the switch, but instead they found a sympathetic populace who understood, according to one report, that solar power represented the jobs of the future.
Batesville joins a number of other school districts nationwide who are switching to solar power. At the end of 2019 in the US, 5.3 million children attended schools powered by solar electricity.
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