Due to making a switch to use solar power for their buildings, an Arkansas school district were able to bump up their teachers’ salaries and eliminate their budget deficits and save millions of dollars.
In 2017 the Batesville School District in Arkansas switched to solar power when they discovered they were spending $600,000 a year on electricity between six school buildings, while concomitantly running a $250,000 budget deficit.
Batesville superintendent Michael Hester knew faculty pay was low which caused a quick staff turnover. he decided to take out a bond to help finance a switch from conventional electric power to renewable energy in the form of 1,400 PV solar panels.
Three years later, Hester’s gamble turned the quarter-million dollar budget deficit into a $1.8 million surplus, which he used to raise teachers’ pay and even the test scores of their district as a result of being able to hold on to quality teachers. The surrounding districts proceeded to follow Hester’s example and install solar panels themselves.
The administrators were worried about the publics opinion of this change, however, the response was very understanding as people understood that solar power was the future and a more sustainable alternative despite living near a coal-fired plant.
Batesville joins a number of other school districts nationwide who are switching to solar power. At the end of 2019 in the US, 5.3 million children attended schools powered by solar electricity.