Las Vegas Sun

July 24, 2014

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LOOKING IN ON: EDUCATION:

Just like Dad, school official says ‘turn off that light’

Energy manager going further, pushing for all appliances to be unplugged for July

Last week the Clark County School District made a frantic push to turn off every possible light, appliance and air conditioner at its hundreds of nine-month campuses, shutting them down entirely for the month of July.

Such conservation efforts helped the district shave $9.4 million off its energy bill last year, up from $8 million in the prior year.

This time around Energy Manager Dick Cuppett wants to trim the costs even further — by unplugging every appliance connected to an electrical outlet instead of just making sure they are turned off at the switch.

Unplugging appliances, which use energy even when turned off, is expected to save the district another $250,000 over the summer, Cuppett told the Sun.

In October the district shared $700,000 in rebates with 307 schools that had trimmed energy costs by at least 10 percent over the prior year.

The top “savers” were Helen Herr Elementary School and Woodbury Middle School, which each trimmed energy usage by more than 44 percent, and Foothill High School with a 34 percent reduction.

None of the top three campuses had modernization work done that would have contributed to improved energy efficiency. The savings were the result of a combination of “all the little things everyone can be doing,” Cuppett said.

In recent years the district has enacted regulations aimed at cutting energy costs. School vending machines, which cost the district an estimated $1.4 million a year to keep running, must have display lights disconnected. Many schools also switched to motion detectors and timers that automatically shut down the machines overnight or during vacation periods.

•••

The Nevada Public Education Foundation’s Hall of Fame added 12 members this year, including Doris Arnold, longtime assistant to the state superintendent of public instruction.

Arnold is “the first voice people run into” when they call the Education Department, Superintendent Keith Rheault said. Given that he’s the fourth superintendent she’s worked for, her institutional knowledge is legendary.

“She’s not only knowledgeable, she follows up with people to make sure they got a response and not a runaround,” Rheault said. “We couldn’t do it without her.”

At a recent meeting the Clark County School Board recognized the Hall of Fame inductees: Ann Lynch, vice president of government relations for Sunrise Health System; Jenny DesVaux Oakes, assistant vice president of UnitedHealth Group Nevada; Clark County Parks and Recreation’s Gang Intervention team; retired Washoe County Schools Superintendent James Hager; Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks; education lobbyist Dottie Merrill; Las Vegas High School booster Thomas Pfundstein; and educators Jesse Hall, Shirley McLees, Carol Medcalf and John Moddrell.

•••

Water use and conservation will be the theme of an intensive, six-week summer camp for high-achieving middle school students, sponsored by the Alexander Dawson Foundation.

The program kicked off Wednesday at the Springs Preserve with a panel discussion featuring Pat Mulroy, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, and Michael Yakira, president of NV Energy.

Although the program is paid for by the foundation of the private Summerlin school where most of the camp sessions will be held, many of the sixth and seventh grade students were drawn from public Clark County campuses in the Las Vegas Valley’s poorest neighborhoods.

The intent of the initiative is to spark and nurture students’ intellectual curiosity and encourage them to think about college and beyond, said Kevin Cloud, executive director of the foundation’s Center for Teaching and Learning.

Students will have opportunities over the next month and a half to meet with business leaders, government officials, environmental activists and engineers to discuss the crucial role water — and shortages — play in science, culture and the community.

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