Faced with a lot of needs, and not a lot of money, the Fullerton School District needed some leverage. The needs were particularly acute in the District’s Parks Junior High School, where outdated mechanical systems were affecting student and teacher comfort.
Proposition 39, which made $550 million available annually to improve schools’ energy efficiency and expand clean energy programs, looked like a promising funding source. But critics of the state-funded program have claimed the money is only good for covering lighting retrofits, not the kind of comprehensive energy efficiency project Fullerton needed.
If Fullerton’s staff had elected to only move forward with “low hanging fruit” projects, the District wouldn’t have been able to address its largest facility concern. Fortunately, Fullerton partnered with Schneider Electric to leverage the District’s Prop 39 funding — and accomplish a significant facility project that will positively impact the learning and working environment for years to come.
Schneider Electric has helped other California school districts develop highly successful Prop 39 projects as well. In the process, we’ve learned several lessons that can benefit all districts.
I discussed one of those lessons in my last post — the importance of using Prop 39 funding to jump start energy and infrastructure master plans.
The next lesson I want to share is the importance of leveraging your Prop 39 allocation to achieve more improvements and a higher ROI for your school district.
Let’s dispel the myths! Districts can achieve so much more than just basic lighting upgrades! Schneider Electric’s long-term facility management plans include capital intensive projects, technology upgrades, sustainability improvements, and more.
We strive to help CA school districts maximize their Prop 39 monies to fund projects that capture every opportunity for utility and operational savings. Beyond that, we help districts secure additional funding to stretch their dollars, enabling them to complete a wide variety of improvements and redirect resources back to their core mission of education.
Fullerton School District is a great example of what can be accomplished with the help of Prop 39. In short, the District is implementing a $4.7 million project using less than $2 million of its own funds (the remainder is being covered with Prop 39 dollars.) Because the Parks Junior High School project is a top priority, the District is going to begin construction in year three of the Prop 39 program. Since the District has an approved five-year plan; it will simply pay itself back with funding from years four and five of the plan once it’s received. The overall project will save the district 7% of their utility expenditures but an incredible 37% at Parks Junior High School.
The specific improvements the District is able to achieve by leveraging its Prop 39 funds include:
- Removing all existing mechanical systems and ductwork at Parks Junior High School.
- Installing new individual package units and programmable thermostats to improve occupant comfort and minimize maintenance issues.
- Replacing existing exterior lighting with new LEDs at all school and support sites.
- Replacing the central kitchen’s refrigeration equipment at the Nutritional Center.
- Installing new networked controls at all of the schools’ multi-purpose rooms, which will allow for optimal scheduling capabilities.
In conclusion, we have seen first-hand how districts can achieve a higher ROI and make a larger impact in their schools by leveraging their Prop 39 funding. However, we understand that not every district is in the position to contribute some of their own money to these projects. If you aren’t able to supplement your Prop 39 allotment with traditional funding, you still have some alternative funding sources to consider.