BEARDEN, Ark. (KTVE/KARD) — The Bearden School District is going solar and they are hoping to save money while providing a better education for its students.
“To my knowledge, we’re the first public school in South Arkansas to work with Today’s Power or any solar system,” Superintendent Denny Rozenberg said.
The school district will have two separate systems located on its campus. One of the solar arrays is located on the high school’s campus while the other sits near the elementary school.
This makes for an easy field trip for students to learn about solar energy instead of learning about it through reading material in the classroom.
“They can go an explore and we can come back and use technology and do research and dig deeper into solar energy rather than reading it surface level in a science book,” 4th grade teacher, Amanda Barnes said.
The district first learned of this opportunity from the Ouachita Electric Cooperative in an effort to lower its energy bills. Today’s Power Inc. out of North Little Rock will be the district’s energy partner, solidifying a 20 year agreement plan.
“We looked at the contract and I think for school districts especially in South Arkansas I think it’s a win-win situation especially if you don’t have a lot of money,” Rozenerg said. “The only money we have out is about $1,300 for a driveway that we put in so they could have access to this site.”
According to the district, the 1,140 system can produce over 720,000 kilowatt-hours annually. This will largely cut their monthly energy bills and is expected to save the district $25,000 annually.
“Our bills may run from a low month $4,000 up to a high month of $10,000,” Rozenberg said. “Every year we’re at about $90,000.
Elementary School Principal, Lavell Wright, says teachers are on board but parents are still trying to figure out what this actually means.
“The parents are just trying to wait and see. They understand that it could save us some money but they don’t actually understand how it’s going to save us money,” Wright said.
The $25,000 annual savings amount for the next 20 years totals to approximately $500,000. Rozenberg says that much money can be used for something else that its students or teachers need.
“That savings can be spent on additional items they need like additional computers, school Supplies, masks for all of our students, hand sanitizers, extra cleaning supplies,” Rozenberg said. “So, there’s a lot of ways we can spend that money this year.”
Today’s Power issued a statement their excitement in partnering with the school district, calling it “an honor”.
“90 percent of the energy usage of the district will be offset at a reduced rate by solar power,” said Michael Henderson, President of Today’s Power, Inc. “This project exemplifies the capacity of Bearden School to reinvest in the community. Projects like this mean that you are not paying for electricity that is being generated in a neighboring county or state.”
The solar systems on each campus will be up and running within the next two weeks. A security fence will also be up to for safety precautions.