Education officials will use the funds to replace outdated heating, cooling and lighting systems. The Winston County School System will have $100,000 to install energy efficient air conditioning units and programmable thermostats in the four following schools: Double Springs elementary and middle schools, and Lynn and Meek high schools.
“Making these improvements to our public school buildings is a good investment, both economically and environmentally,” Bentley said in a press release. “The energy-saving measures made possible by these grants will save local school boards and taxpayers millions of dollars in the future.”
Efforts to reach Winston County Schools Superintendent Sue Reed were unsuccessful Wednesday and Thursday.
Boards of education throughout Alabama have focused on energy savings as they face tighter budgets brought on by across-the-board state funding cuts and reduced tax revenue.
The Walker County School System last year installed programmable thermostats and energy-efficient lighting fixtures in 15 schools thanks to a $304,750 federal stimulus grant. Officials with the local school district said the board of education could save around $146,000 a year in energy costs.
The Jasper City Board of Education last year hired a firm to suggest energy savings techniques throughout the school district. By heeding the advice of specialists with the firm, district officials saved more than $100,000 from June 2010 to June 2011.
The grants announced by Bentley this week will be administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs from funds provided by the U.S. Energy Departments State Energy Program.
The other six school systems receiving grants are:
Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind: The institute is receiving $91,213 to replace air conditioning equipment at the School for the Deaf and the School for the Blind with units that are more energy efficient.
Chambers County: With the help of a $100,000 grant, the Chambers County Board of Education will make improvements at Fairfax and Bob Harding Shawmut elementary schools. Lighting, heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems at both schools will be upgraded.
Decatur: A $100,000 grant to the Decatur City School System will enable the installation of a digital heating and air conditioning control system at Cedar Ridge Middle School. The new system will automatically reduce heating and cooling when the school is unoccupied.
Dothan: Dothan City Schools will use a $100,000 grant to upgrade the lighting system at Kelly Springs Elementary School.
Jackson County: The Jackson County Board of Education is receiving $100,000 to install energy efficient lighting in the gymnasiums of six schools. Sensors will turn the lights off automatically in specific areas of the gyms that are not in use. The schools receiving the upgrades are Macedonia Elementary School, Rosalie and Woodville elementary schools, Pisgah and Skyline high schools and North Sand Mountain School.
Lowndes County: With a $100,000 grant, the Lowndes County Board of Education will upgrade the lighting system at Central Elementary School and the heating, air conditioning and ventilation units at Central High School.
Tarrant: An $82,927 grant to Tarrant City Schools will enable the installation of energy-efficient heating and air conditioning units at Tarrant Intermediate School and the school system’s central office building. The grant also will fund a lighting-system upgrade at the central office.