Today it was reported by KCCI that the school district plans to implement a new policy to charge teachers annual fees to keep personal appliances in their classrooms. The ultimate goal is for teachers to get rid of personal appliances to reduce energy usage throughout the district. For example, based on the national average 11.8 cents a kWH, one mini fridge can cost anywhere from $27 to $80 a year to operate depending on the model. DMPS is among many school districts and employers throughout the country attempting to make similar behavioral modifications. For example, in 2011 Limestone County Schools in Athens, Alabama (estimated 9,100 students enrolled and 1,100 employees compared to 32,413 students enrolled and 5,000 employees at DMPS) implemented a similar charge for personal appliances and realized nearly $25,000 saved after only three months. By saving utility costs, more money can be restored to general fund dollars. During a time that education budgets continue to be cut, more general fund dollars could help to potentially save teaching jobs, increase teacher salaries, and even create new teaching opportunities.
Des Moines Public Schools has been making a big push to reduce their energy consumption over the past decade. DMPS has received several national and state awards including ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Green Ribbon School Award by the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Iowa Environmental Excellence Award presented annually by the Governor of Iowa. Current Iowa Governor Terry Branstad stated “Des Moines Public Schools is committed to being an environmental leader; efforts span multiple areas including reducing environmental impact and costs, improving student and staff health and providing effective environmental and sustainability education” last year when he presented them with the Iowa Environmental Excellence Award. Through innovative and common sense measures like the one reported by KCCI, Des Moines Public Schools has been able to save 2.4 million dollars in avoided energy costs since the 2007-2008 fiscal year through operational changes and cost-effective upgrades.
Click here to read more from the KCCI article.