Schools in Arkansas Install Solar Panels to Save Millions on Energy and Increase Teachers’ Pay

Madeline Hesser, Editor in Chief

 

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Teachers do not get paid enough. This has been a problem in the United States for the longest time, and it is a very unfortunate fact. But a school district in Arkansas has proven that just the simplest consideration impacts a lot more than its intended purpose. 

The Batesville School District in Batesville, Arkansas switched to solar power in 2017 – after an audit by an energy efficient company called Entegrity – when they found they were spending $600,000 a year on electricity between 6 school buildings, while running a $250,000 budget deficit. The district’s superintendent Michael Hester, who knew faculty pay was low, causing a quick staff turnover, made a switch from conventional power to renewable energy in the form of 1,400 PV solar panels. 

In just three years, Michael’s decision turned the quarter-million dollar budget deficit into a $1.8 million surplus, in which he used to raise teachers’ pay, and even the test scores of their district as a result of being able to hold onto quality teachers. The surrounding districts then followed suit and decided to install solar panels as well. Administrators worried about what the public opinion would be about the switch, based on living near a coal-fired power plant for almost a decade, but they received a sympathetic populace who understood that solar power represents the jobs of the future. 

Although this school district isn’t the only one to switch to solar power in the nation, it’s still a great look on how they’re helping their teachers with a quick switch to renewable energy. And to all the teachers in the world, the United States, Iowa, and all the teachers here in our very own district and school, we thank you for all that you have done.