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Energy costs may force school cuts
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School Board members are concerned by early numbers which show the massive savings on energy costs last year are nowhere to be found this year.“Have we been so successful in that first year that we’re becoming lax now?” asked School Board chairman Bill Zechman after a report by building and grounds supervisor Donnie Caldwell which revealed increases in energy use at most schools.The revelation came after the school system reduced its energy use significantly during the 2011-12 school year, saving the system $152,000. The reduction was accomplished by simply modifying behavior by doing things like turning off lights and computer monitors and reducing the number of portable refrigerators and personal items which use energy in classrooms.The reduction had school leaders so enthused they were searching for a reward to give school system employees for their efforts. However, with the new report, leaders are worried the bottom line could shrink to a point where personnel cuts might be required.“This is directly tied to staffing,” Zechman admitted, noting higher energy costs will cut the system’s ability to hire and retain some positions since it is money the school system has to spend.The concern comes amid the report covering July, August and September showing electric use was up $69,467 from the same time last year.