By Meredith McCown
Broken Arrow Public Schools said it’s saving the district millions of dollars, simply by conserving energy each year.
“With the number of sites that we have, every dollar adds up,” Executive Director of Facilities Larry Shackelford said.
Since 2017, it’s added up to more than $3 million. Shackelford said that money saved from electric bills over the years could buy 30 school buses, pay 72 first-year teacher salaries or nearly 9,000 new Chromebooks.
Broken Arrow Public Schools is partnering with Cenergistic, a company helping school districts manage energy to save money.
“The enormity of our school district is a challenge to heat and cool,” Shackelford said.
Shackelford said in all, Broken Arrow Public Schools encompasses three million indoor square feet, and 36 sites with close to 800 classrooms. Plus, he said there’s more than 1,500 rooftop AC units.
Each school’s temperature can be controlled remotely through thermostats. That’s one of the main ways energy is conserved, especially during the summer.
Shackelford said around 70 percent of the district’s energy usage is electricity. For example, it’s saved by turning off AC in the gym during the summer, and in classrooms, if no one is using them.
“Over a period of a time, when you’re changing the culture of your school district, everyone is aware and conscious of a light being on, or a computer left on,” Shackelford said.
He said the conservation efforts cut down nearly a quarter of the utility bill. The goal is for any money saved to go back to the classrooms.
“This is not something we can do by ourselves. We have to get teamwork and buy-in from the staff, and the teachers and leaders in the district to be able to pull the rope in the same direction. And we have that in Broken Arrow,” said Doug Bilyeu, Cenergistic Regional Vice President of Client Development.
“You want to save money to give back to the student, so that has just become a priority here,” Shackelford said.