An Arkansas school district saved so much money from switching to solar power for their buildings, they were able to bump up their teachers’ salaries and eliminate their budget deficits.
After an audit by a specialist energy efficiency consultancy, the Batesville School District in Arkansas switched to solar power in 2017 when they discovered they were spending a whopping $600,000 a year on electricity between six school buildings, while simultaneously running a $250,000 budget deficit.
Batesville superintendent Michael Hester took out a bond to help finance the switch from conventional electric power (from the local coal-fired plant) to renewable energy supplied by 1,400 solar panels.
In just three years, Hester’s gamble turned the quarter-million dollar budget deficit into a $1.8 million surplus, which he used to raise teachers’ pay and is now able to avoid staff turnover and hold on to quality teachers. As a result, the district has risen in state rankings for their students academic performance. The cherry on top is that the district's energy consumption has also become significantly more environmentally friendly.
The further beneficial knock on effect of the switch was that surrounding districts followed Hester’s example and also installed solar panels.
Numerous other school districts across America are switching to solar power. At the end of 2019 in the US, 5.3 million children attended schools powered by solar electricity. That's good news for the health of their finances and the planet.
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