Even though the economy has largely recovered from the Great Recession that hit nearly a decade ago, K-12 funding has yet to bounce back. In fact, half of states today are providing less funding to K-12 schools than they were in 2008.
This fiscal crisis has school administrators concerned for a number of reasons.
Schools are under pressure to modernize and leverage cutting-edge technology to prepare students for a rapidly changing job market. This includes initiatives to further STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) coursework, which may require costly investments in tech supplies and telecom infrastructure improvements.
In addition to pursuing these efforts, administrators cannot forget about their primary responsibility—improving student outcomes. While quality instruction itself cannot be discounted, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) has found a correlation between K-12 finance reform and long-term outcomes.
According to NBER, a 10 percent increase in per-pupil spending for all 12 years of public school leads to 0.27 percent more completed years of education, 7.25 percent higher wages and a 3.67 percent reduction in adult poverty.
The current state of K-12 education funding has many administrators worried that their districts won’t be able to maintain the status quo, let alone make improvements. But a solution may be found in an unlikely place—investing in energy services.
Energy Services Performance Contracts can help K-12 administrators replace inefficient, costly and high-maintenance equipment with state-of-the-art, energy-efficient equipment. Improvements and upgrades in heating, cooling, ventilation, controls and lighting equipment can help districts save a significant amount of money by reducing utility bills and maintenance costs.
Schools may even benefit from introducing on-site renewable energy sources, depending on local and state regulations.
For districts that want to upgrade their facilities, procuring a performance contract or a design-build contract from an energy services supplier can save time and money while providing end-to-end construction of a facility which fosters energy conservation and preservation of resources.
Leveraging energy services may even help administrators address their primary role as educators. Making improvements to a school’s lighting, heating, cooling and ventilation systems also supports the comfort and health of the student body, which in turn can increase the benefits of the improvements. In an EPA study of fifth-grade classrooms in 100 schools, standardized test scores improved 3 percent when increasing ventilation rates from 2 to 15 cubic feet per minute.
If both teachers and students are healthier, absenteeism—a significant factor in student outcomes—may also decrease. Furthermore, recent studies indicate that 70 percent of K-12 leaders have reported higher test scores in energy-efficient facilities.
Of course, K-12 administrators must consider the bottom line. So how much can energy services save your district? According to the United States Green Building Council, green schools see a net financial benefit of $71 per square foot.
To learn more about how Energy Services may be able to help your school district, click here.