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Overview

Introduction

Oregon’s Cool Schools program, initiated by Governor Kitzhaber in January 2011, is designed to achieve three goals:

1. Put money back in the classroom 
Utility bills are public schools’ second biggest expense and they are growing 20 percent every biennium, taking precious dollars away from the classroom.
 
2. Boost student and teacher performance 
Upgrading older buildings will improve airflow and lighting, and reduce mold and asbestos. In 2005, Washington state saw a 15 percent reduction in absenteeism and a 5 percent increase in student test scores after efficiency measures were completed.
 
3. Put Oregonians back to work 
For every $1 million we invest in energy efficiency upgrades, we can create as many as 15 family-wage jobs.
The program started with energy audits to 500 school facilities in Oregon. Through June 30, 2015, the Oregon Department of Energy will assist these public schools in finding low-cost solutions to their energy needs.
 
The Cool Schools program is a division of ODOE’s Energy Efficient Schools Program.

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Milestones

Here’s a timeline on the progress of the Cool Schools program:
 
Jan. 11, 2011
Governor Kitzhaber directed the Oregon Department of Energy to use $2 million in unused stimulus funding to proceed immediately with energy audits on 500 Oregon schools.
 
Conducting energy audits of Oregon schools created immediate private sector jobs and was the first step in the Governor's commitment to create thousands of Oregon jobs through school weatherization retrofits.
 
June 20, 2011
The Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 2960 – the Cool Schools Initiative – to expand finance mechanisms for public schools across the state to perform energy efficiency upgrades.
 
Specifically, the bill:

  • established the Clean Energy Deployment Program and the Clean Energy Deployment Fund to provide grants and loans to support energy efficiency or clean energy projects in Oregon;
  • directed ODOE to establish criteria for qualifications of projects and defines the types of projects that can be financed through the program;
  • directed ODOE to establish and administer a four-year high performance schools pilot program within the Clean Energy Deployment Program;
  • renamed the Loan Offset Grant Funds to the Jobs, Energy and Schools Fund; and
  • directed the Public Utility Commission to report on feasibility, cost effectiveness, and potential ratepayer costs associated with power purchase agreements by December 1, 2012.
 
The bill also changed the existing distribution of Senate Bill 1149 (1999) funds from educational service districts to school districts.
 
June 22, 2011
Governor Kitzhaber signed into law HB 2960. (Governor’s speech) (Photo)
 
Nov. 10, 2011
Governor Kitzhaber and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten announced a strategic partnership including up to $15 million for investment in the Governor's Cool Schools Initiative.

Since Governor Kitzhaber signed the bill into law, eight school districts have applied for or secured over $4.7 million for school retrofits.
 

COOL SCHOOLS PHASE I  
Banks School District 
$636,538
Klamath Falls City Schools 
$400,000
Klamath County School District 
$1,876,000
Milton-Freewater Unified School District 
$163,000
Monroe School District 
$289,862
Pine Eagle School District 
$30,000
Corbett School District 
$583,136
Jefferson School District 
$803,659

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