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Richmond Co. schools target minifridges

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A cold and power-hungry device so treasured by school employees that it's often found hidden under desks or disguised is being targeted for removal in Richmond County.

It's the coveted minifridge, and in Richmond County schools about 240 of the personal appliances were recently found in an audit. As part of an energy-saving initiative started a year ago, a conservation team has been going from school to school, and to the system's main office on Broad Street, seeking to remove the minifridges, along with microwaves and electric heaters.

Doors left open and lights being left on also are being targeted, but the minifridge has been the focus, with school board members considering a policy against them.

"We're looking under every rock possible," Lawson Hobbs, an energy conservation team member, told school board members. "We're trying to visit every school now."

Mr. Hobbs has asked the school board to adopt a policy against minifridge use except for in clinics, labs, special ed classes and teachers lounges. Any exceptions, he said, should require approval by the senior director of facilities.

Board members asked Superintendent Dana Bedden to craft a policy, and he said he would present something to the board at Tuesday's 6 p.m. meeting.

Mr. Hobbs said there could be more minifridges than those found in the audit.

"People are creative in how they disguise them," he said, noting that sometimes the minifridges are hidden under desks or covered with contact paper or a throw cover.

Mr. Hobbs told board members each minifridge costs the system about $40 per year in electricity, or about $9,600 total.

Officials have said they would like to save more than $1.6 million out of $6.5 million spent annually on utilities, $4.7 million of which is on electricity.

Mr. Hobbs said he didn't have an estimate on possible savings.

Board member Barbara Pulliam said any effort at energy savings should include the system's Broad Street headquarters.

"If you're going to do it, do it all over," she said.

On Friday, the conservation team did just that, visiting offices throughout the building.

Officials are also trying to get schools to cut down on vending machines, which cost about $400 each annually in energy expenses, board members were told. There are 127 vending machines in the school system.

Doors left open, officials said, cost $5 an hour each in lost heating or cooling.

The conservation team also is replacing some manual thermostats with programmable digital versions that lock and are set to turn on and off at certain times.

Temperatures recently became a topic of discussion after some board members heard that classrooms are kept at 68 degrees in the winter and 78 in the summer because of state guidelines. Some members said 68 is too cool, but they were quickly told that to increase the temperature by just 2 to 4 degrees would cost the system an extra $70,000 a year.

Dr. Bedden reminded board members how energy savings have helped in the past amid tight budgets. He noted how the system was able to be $4.4 million under budget last year, which meant two fewer furlough days than called for by the governor.

"A big chunk of that was changing how we do business with energy," he said. "So we saved people two days of furlough by following recommended temperatures."

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3851 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

The Impact

Richmond County school officials are working to cut more than $1.6 million out of the system's annual $6.5 million utility bill, which includes $4.7 million for electricity.

240: Minifridges found during an audit of Richmond County schools and the main office
$9,600: Yearly energy cost for 240 minifridges (at a yearly cost of $40 each)

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johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 11/16/09 - 05:27 am
0
0
A couple of years ago, I

A couple of years ago, I replaced my minifridge with a larger, but still small, apartment size firdge. My electric bill fell almost $30/month. The only change was from the very inefficient minifridge.

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 11/16/09 - 07:11 am
0
0
Psssst.. Hey, Dr. Bedden.. I

Psssst.. Hey, Dr. Bedden.. I have some carbon offsets on the cheap you may be interested in..

One who cares
0
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One who cares 11/16/09 - 07:17 am
0
0
They tell me it's not only

They tell me it's not only Minifridges that raise the electric bill, also a Lamp on your desk with an energy saving lightbulb in it. Also a radio--This is a sad situation when you cannot have soft light on your desk and listen to the news and radio to keep up with news daily; but Dana Bedden can get a $15,000 Bonus and keep getting up. Look around at some of his buddies offices down at the Pearly office--Bet you can find lamps, radios, MP3 players and Lordy knows what else. Plus you can freeze in your office or classroom and/or burnup in the media center or office--and does he care?Do a job, regardless of conditions-or go find another one- People do not care about employees or children anymore-just Federal Grant Money-We are just numbers-I THINK IT IS A DISGRACE. Go ahead and leave Dana Bedden we know you're out there looking. Cut back on some of these MEETINGS and that would cut the budget by MILLIONS. I know the right people probably will not see this but I sure hope they do!!! Take care of your employees and they will do a better job. WE are already understaff out in the schools, but you have people falling over each other downtown-a Secretary for a Secretary. Oh no!!!!!!

Martinez
154
Points
Martinez 11/16/09 - 07:57 am
0
0
This is silly. I could see

This is silly. I could see inspecting the items and removing anything that poses a danger but serously? Teachers are tied to their desk and classroom during certain time frames. They often struggle to find enough time to use the restroom because they can't leave a classroom unattended, then they are monitoring halls between classes etc. If a teacher wants a small fridge to keep a few bottles of water cold or maybe even a bagged lunch.... I say let them have it. Dr. Bedden - let's see you stand in front of a class for several hours and then tell me you wouldn't want something cold to drink nearby.

storiesihaveread
358
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storiesihaveread 11/16/09 - 08:19 am
0
0
Huh Energy technician?

Huh Energy technician?

workingmom
0
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workingmom 11/16/09 - 08:25 am
0
0
Martinez, I have a water

Martinez, I have a water bottle sitting on my desk with ice water. I fill it up in the mornings and at lunch. As you probably know, teachers RARELY sit at their desks so it never gets empty. I haven't had a fridge in my classroom in over 20 years.

tdp
0
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tdp 11/16/09 - 08:35 am
0
0
This is really petty! I

This is really petty! I agree with ONE WHO CARES. We should use Bedden's bonus to pay for those mini-fridges. These people are educating your kids for God's sake. Give them a mini-fridge if they want it!

xanadu
0
Points
xanadu 11/16/09 - 09:06 am
0
0
darn it, no more wine coolers

darn it, no more wine coolers at lunch.

jbomb
0
Points
jbomb 11/16/09 - 09:07 am
0
0
send me the bill for my

send me the bill for my childs teachers mini fridge Ill pay for it

ugadawgbite
0
Points
ugadawgbite 11/16/09 - 09:10 am
0
0
That minifridge will be in

That minifridge will be in that "energy technician's" house by the end of the day. Nothing better to keep that colt 45 nice and cold!

tiredofit1
0
Points
tiredofit1 11/16/09 - 09:18 am
0
0
What would the cost savings

What would the cost savings be if they fired the two energy techs who have spent a year finding $9600.00 of energy savings.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 11/16/09 - 09:26 am
0
0
What about the thousands we

What about the thousands we spend on "bottled water" for the teachers but the kids have to use the fountains? Maybe someone can tell me why a teacher needs a different water supply than the kids have? One other thing that needs looking into is the standards we insist on when building new schools. Does the specs for the Heating and A/c specify what Beddens Buffons are calling standards or are they using national standards? Believe me there is a huge difference in the cost of equipment needed to meet those standards.

whyaskwhy
0
Points
whyaskwhy 11/16/09 - 09:31 am
0
0
Sooo when does the sale of

Sooo when does the sale of these "rounded-up" minifridge start ? Will there be a sidewalk sale on Broad in front of the central office ? Will there be a pre-sale ? I need two. LOL

justthefacts
21699
Points
justthefacts 11/16/09 - 09:55 am
0
0
Next, personal printers. Way

Next, personal printers. Way more expensive to operate than fridges.

onthethirdday
0
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onthethirdday 11/16/09 - 10:00 am
0
0
This is incredible. You can't

This is incredible. You can't reach AYP in 90% of your schools, but you are gong to remove mini-fridges to save on energy costs? Concentrate on the important things, like I don't know, maybe the education of the students under your care. No wonder our public school systems are failing. Too much effort and energy (sorry for the pun) spent on the wrong things. Let the teachers have the fridges and leave them alone so they can do their job.

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 11/16/09 - 10:15 am
0
0
There's stupid, then there's

There's stupid, then there's institutional stupid. Take Dr. Bedden's bonus, add the salaries of the two clowns who spent a year finding this 'huge' drain on the multi-million dollar school budget, transfer the operating budget for luxuries like free cell phones, gas, vehicles,personal --as opposed to work-- computers at virtually each desk, etc, at the puzzle palace that is the school headquarters and BUY a mini-fridge for any teacher who wants one.

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 11/16/09 - 10:16 am
0
0
This is a joke ..right?

This is a joke ..right?

sickandtired
0
Points
sickandtired 11/16/09 - 10:29 am
0
0
"Mr. Hobbs has asked the

"Mr. Hobbs has asked the school board to adopt a policy against minifridge use except for in clinics, labs, special ed classes and teachers lounges."

and what can be done for those teachers who do not have the luxury of having a Teacher's Lounge in their school? Where are they to keep their lunches and beverages?

crackerjack
150
Points
crackerjack 11/16/09 - 10:39 am
0
0
And now as the weather gets

And now as the weather gets cooler, comes out the electric heaters. Dr. Bedden, if you have to drop the payroll of your schools because taxpayers are fleeing the county, then make the rules, have the teachers and admin sign it, then when they are caught, fire them. That should drop your expenses.

InChristLove
22473
Points
InChristLove 11/16/09 - 10:56 am
0
0
Mini-fridge...you've got to

Mini-fridge...you've got to be kidding. If it's only $40 a year then why not let the teachers who wish to keep these in their room, pay the $40 for the years electricity, and move on to more important things.

WMartin
119
Points
WMartin 11/16/09 - 11:15 am
0
0
This is STUPID. The products

This is STUPID. The products of decades of a declining public education system are now running that same education system. It will only get worse. The solution is so simple as put forward by InChristLove's post. This doesn't even need to make the paper.

Grasshopper
7
Points
Grasshopper 11/16/09 - 11:37 am
0
0
Wow, he has his camera and is

Wow, he has his camera and is taking pictures of mini-fridges.

teapot
0
Points
teapot 11/16/09 - 11:39 am
0
0
Who paid for the camera the

Who paid for the camera the "Energy Tech" is using to "document" the culprit fridge? What is an energy tech.? What is his/her pay rate? How do they get from school to school? WHERE ARE THE COST SAVINGS?
Do it right. Have each employee bring a bucket of coal for the pot-belly stove. If you want a radio, bring your own batteries. Cut the heat to 65 and wear longjohns. No heavy coats(hide weapons in them). Put auto closers on all doors (good heavy springs will work) Install BIG windows that won't open but allow plenty of light and heat . BACK TO THE FUTURE Richmond Cty. BOE!!!!!

Riverman1
83543
Points
Riverman1 11/16/09 - 12:21 pm
0
0
What kind of business or

What kind of business or office of any kind doesn't allow professional employees to have a refrigerator and microwave if they want? Teachers deserve more respect.

justthefacts
21699
Points
justthefacts 11/16/09 - 12:29 pm
0
0
Riverman, I work for one of

Riverman, I work for one of the largest companies in the world and we have restrictions on many energy wasting devices. And we certainly are not the exception. Got to go green brother.

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 11/16/09 - 12:41 pm
0
0
68 degrees isn't really a

68 degrees isn't really a comfortable temperature and from what I hear the children can't wear jackets in the class, I agree with one who cares, I think that Bedden if he cares so much should trun his bonus down but I am sure that will not happen but it will not happen with any other superintendents either, they talk about cut backs, lets cut out all these thousands of dollars in bonuses, they already get big salaries to start with.

freebird
0
Points
freebird 11/16/09 - 12:58 pm
0
0
oh yes... the "EDUCATORS" are

oh yes... the "EDUCATORS" are finding ways to disguise the fridges....such honest good adults with there pants up to their chest....

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 11/16/09 - 01:00 pm
0
0
I have to go with teapot on

I have to go with teapot on this... "energy Tech" position...bet it's one of the jobs "created" by barry's porkulous package....please tell me Mr. Paschal just where DID you get your Degree?? Come on beddin you could use that porkulous money with a little more imagination than this.

jojo55
0
Points
jojo55 11/16/09 - 01:01 pm
0
0
When the good teachers start

When the good teachers start walking out and going to work for the private sector, what will the BOE do then? No one in their right mind will take a teaching job in Richmond County because of all the crap like this, too bad for the students.

Just tired
0
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Just tired 11/16/09 - 01:04 pm
0
0
This is just plain silly.

This is just plain silly. The Great Mini-Fridge story. I can't wait for the Hollywood movie version of this saga. Let the teachers have their fidge's and go in search of some real waste.

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