Governor Kitzhaber signs signature Cool Schools bill to help get Oregonians back to work
June 22, 2011
Thanks for being here for such a momentous occasion. As many of you know, Cool Schools was a centerpiece of my campaign. Energy efficiency upgrades on K-12 buildings is a smart way to immediately get people back to work across the state while saving money and improving our schools.
Since I came into office, over 16,000 jobs have been created and Oregon’s unemployment rate has been steadily dropping. But we need to make sure that the recovery spreads to all parts of our state – and now that the Legislature has unanimouslypassed Cool Schools, we have an effective way to do that.
Cool Schools will provide access to financing for school districts to upgrade their facilities through ODOE’s Clean Energy Deployment Fund.
We know that for every $1 million investment in energy efficiency we can create as many as 15 jobs. With up to 43 schools from 13 school districts in 12 counties already on board for Cool Schools upgrades— ranging from Pine Eagle in eastern Oregon to Klamath Falls in the south and Warrenton on the north coast — we will immediately start bringing good family-wage jobs to all parts of the state.
And the benefits to these schools will be significant. The Dallas school district recently upgraded lighting, boilers, and roofs, among other things, as part of energy efficiency work done in its schools. These upgrades will not only boost student and teacher performance by improving air flow and lighting, making the classrooms more comfortable and healthy, but they will also save significant amounts of money on utility bills. In fact, as Christy Perry, the Dallas school district superintendent who’s here today will expand upon in a moment, these upgrades will save nearly $100,000 in utility costs for her district over the next biennium – and these funds can be redirected to pay for teachers and school supplies.
Innovative approaches like Cool Schools, along with our efforts to improve education and health care delivery in Oregon, are absolutely essential to Oregon’s long-term economic recovery and to our ability to build the workforce of the 21st century and create a prosperous and sustainable future.
It’s also another example of the bipartisan work we’ve been able to do this session to help move our state forward.
I want to thank everyone who has helped us create and pass this initiative. A huge number of legislators — Republican and Democrat — have helped make this happen, particularly Representatives Bailey and Smith who joined the effort a year and a half ago. I also want to thank our transition co-chairs, Barbara Byrd, Margaret Kirkpatrick, and Maurice Rahming, and the huge coalition of business, labor, non-profit, and government agencies that helped move Cool Schools through and will help implement it.
And now I want to give some of these folks a chance to speak, and then I’ll come back to sign the bill. Superintendent Christy Perry …