Governor Kitzhaber signs Cool Schools legislation
Forty-three schools have already applied with construction beginning this summer
(SALEM, Ore.) — Energy efficiency upgrades in up to 43 schools will create family-wage jobs in hard-hit communities like Pine Eagle, Klamath Falls and Warrenton this summer under “Cools Schools” legislation signed into law today by Governor Kitzhaber. House Bill 2960 provides access to financing for school districts to fix leaky roofs, upgrade inefficient lighting and heating and make other improvements through the Oregon Department of Energy’s Clean Energy Deployment Fund (CEDF). Construction projects will begin this summer.
“Cool Schools is a triple-win for Oregon,” said Governor Kitzhaber. “The program will bring family-wage jobs, cost savings, and better learning environments to schools in communities across the state.”
The average Oregon K-12 public school building is nearly 40 years old, with 14 percent of elementary schools over 60 years old. Many facilities have leaky roofs and windows, outdated boilers, dim lighting, and poor ventilation, and they are increasingly expensive to maintain. Utility bills — often a public schools’ second biggest expense — are growing 20 percent every biennium, taking precious dollars away from the classroom. These outdated facilities aren’t just costly; they also make it more difficult for students to focus, stay healthy, and learn.
Cool Schools puts Oregonians back to work across the state by upgrading these facilities. The potential benefits to schools and Oregon’s economy are significant. Every $1 million invested in energy efficiency creates as many as 15 jobs. The Dallas school district in the Willamette Valley recently upgraded its schools with new lighting, boilers, and roofs, among other improvements. The upgrades will save the district nearly $100,000 in the utility costs over the next biennium – funds that are being redirected to keep more teachers and resources in the classroom. The Dallas district is now applying for $3.5 million under Cool Schools to complete additional energy efficiency projects.
School investment in energy efficiency also has been shown to improve student and teacher performance. Upgrading older buildings improves airflow and lighting and reduces 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.
Participating schools can receive loans through CEDF. The application process is open until July 15th through the Oregon Department of Energy.
For more information, go to http://www.oregon.gov/ENERGY/GSI/
Christine Miles, 503-559-8795
Amy Wojcicki, 503-689-5324