Schools speak out on energy costs

LANSING — Officials with the Michigan Schools Energy Cooperative (MISEC), a coalition of 330 public school districts, shared their desire to increase the state’s school energy choice program cap, a move that could save neighborhood schools millions of dollars over time.

If the energy choice program is eliminated, schools stand to lose as much as $15 million in energy cost savings each year. That’s equivalent to taking 300 teachers out of the classroom or a $35 reduction in per pupil spending. A removal of the state’s cap on school electric choice, however, could ensure that hundreds more schools could potentially save millions, Pierce said.

“MISEC member school officials met with state legislators today to explain the benefits of electric choice for schools, and to encourage them to remove the state’s cap on schools that can participate in the energy choice program. Currently, MISEC serves 330 members, and of those, 157 participate in electric choice. More than a hundred schools are currently waiting to participate in the program,” said Jay Kulbertis, MISEC vice president and superintendent of Gladstone Area Public Schools.

“Electricity costs are high everywhere, but disproportionally so in the Upper Peninsula, where my district works to educate children,” Kulbertis said. “Removal of the cap or even an increase in the number of schools that could benefit from this program would save districts in my region hundreds of thousands of dollars, almost overnight.”

“The state’s energy choice program ensures that dozens of neighborhood schools achieve real savings in their budgets that they can pass on to the classroom,” said Ray Telman, secretary/treasurer of MISEC. “There’s a real desire on the part of more schools to participate. We’re urging the Legislature to seriously consider changing the law to benefit districts across Michigan.”