Charlotte County School District is trimming down waste in the new year, starting with its utility bill.

Over the course of five years, the district plans to net a savings of $2 million.

Funds would go back into the operation budget. Superintendent Steve Dionisio and his finance team would decide how it would potentially be spent.

The district brought in Cenergistic, a company that monitors energy use and works to identify ways to increase efficiency.

Students and staff will receive training and education on energy conservation, and the district can identify the top and bottom performing schools using Cenergistic’s client dashboard.

The company’s software also has a simulation that could estimate the cost of an upgrade and calculate the return on investment, which would let the district prioritize upgrades and spend money efficiently.

School board member, Kim Amontree said the board has a responsibility to taxpayers to spend money effectively and efficiently.

The board once considered conducting an energy efficiency study, after seeing the estimated savings Sarasota County Schools received from their study. The district was quoted a price between $25,000-$60,000, depending on how wide ranging they wanted the study to be.

Geri Waksler, a local attorney, who ran for the District 1 seat on the school board last year wanted to study where money has possibly been wasted in the budget.

“It seemed to me to be a good idea to bring a fresh set of eyes to the District to review and evaluate its processes and operations,” said Waksler.

“Additionally, I was impressed by the savings realized by the Sarasota County School District after it undertook a similar study and began to implement the study’s recommendations,” she added.

In 2012, Sarasota County Schools received an estimate gross savings of $23,782,285 over a five-year period as a result of their efficiency study.

Amontree said that after some consideration, the district decided not to conduct a study, because some board members had reservations about the cost, and were concerned it would take too much of the staff’s time.

“I am firmly in favor of conducting an efficiency and effectiveness study. I believe that there would be a positive Return on Investment with more savings than what the study would cost,” said Amontree.

Though Waksler did not win the seat for District 1, she still wants to see the study happen.

Waksler has a committee in place, and said she has secured an initial donation of $5,000 toward the cost of the study and is working with the Charlotte Community Foundation to identify donors to pay for remaining costs of the study.

Once the committee has all the money, they will solicit bids and make a recommendation for a consultant to the school board.


(2) comments


A quick look at the Maintenance & Operations page on the CCPS website shows that the district is already doing a lot to manage energy use responsibly: “Our energy team, with the help of each and every staff and student in our district, has reduced our utility costs by $17,796,100 in the first eleven years of the program. The District is an ENERGY STAR Partner and has been awarded thirty-seven ENERGY STAR plaques for energy efficiency by the Department of Environmental Protection (EPA). Seven schools and two ancillary buildings have been recognized by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) for their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).”


I applaud the district’s efforts to continue monitoring energy use and making changes that increase efficiency. The article made it sound like this is something new, though. As an employee of the district since 2002, I see it as part of a continuing effort to manage funds responsibly rather than as a new initiative.

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