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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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uptheseventhplanet
1
Points
uptheseventhplanet 11/16/09 - 01:08 pm
0
0
In business offices where I

In business offices where I have worked there are one or more centrally located refrigerators and microwaves for all to use; depending on the number of employees who work in the office.

blondietoo007
0
Points
blondietoo007 11/16/09 - 01:09 pm
0
0
Pack a cooler...

Pack a cooler...

Fiat_Lux
15369
Points
Fiat_Lux 11/16/09 - 01:32 pm
0
0
Don't these people have a

Don't these people have a clue about what's important? They're rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic with this nonsense when they should be desperately pumping out the bilge.

Rozzie2003
5
Points
Rozzie2003 11/16/09 - 01:46 pm
0
0
This needs to be

This needs to be reconsidered. Teachers have very few perks, not even vacation.Their benefits run about 38 percent of their salary
Their contract calls for 190 working days and they are paid for 190 days only.
Give them a break!!!!!

Riverman1
83688
Points
Riverman1 11/16/09 - 02:00 pm
0
0
Again, I'd say most

Again, I'd say most professionals at the level teachers should be, can have such applicances in their offices. I have a fridge and micorwave in mine. As Rozzie just said, this is a perk for the teachers and a way they can save time and money. They often have to skip lunch to work.

baronvonreich
0
Points
baronvonreich 11/16/09 - 02:04 pm
0
0
No vacation? They work barely

No vacation? They work barely half the year, never have to work a night shift or weekends or holidays and are never on call 24/7. It isn't like teachers didn't know their salaries, schedules, benefits, etc when they voluntarily decided to be a teacher. If they don't like it then let them take their skills to the private sector and get a job.

Fiat_Lux
15369
Points
Fiat_Lux 11/16/09 - 02:14 pm
0
0
BaronvonRetch: Teachers

BaronvonRetch: Teachers regularly have to take work home with them because there's not enough time during the day to finish it all; they have to spend their own money to obtain materials they need for their classrooms and courses due to cuts; and they often have to go to school themselves during their summer vacations in order to maintain their credentials and to merit a pay raise or promotion. They also are required to put up with some of the most savage and disgusting of human debris clogging up the education system, often without any administrative support or backing. Yet we still expect them to care about their students and give their all to educate the little twirps. You might want to re-think your decidedly uninformed 1:04 comment.

crackertroy
540
Points
crackertroy 11/16/09 - 02:46 pm
0
0
Cut the "energy techs" that
Unpublished

Cut the "energy techs" that should save at least $9,600 per year. I doubt they could make up for their pay in cuts anyway. Most of the teachers in Richmond County will be flooding the private sector this summer. Most can find good jobs without having to deal with this nonsense.

ninaray
0
Points
ninaray 11/16/09 - 04:51 pm
0
0
This was done is Aiken County

This was done is Aiken County schools last year.

jojo55
0
Points
jojo55 11/16/09 - 05:04 pm
0
0
ninaray, that doesn't make it

ninaray, that doesn't make it right. Look at S.C.'s educational status. I don't think getting rid of the mini-fridges has done anything to keep kids in school or teachers in their jobs. My daughter is a teacher and she is always working past her scheduled hours, has to attend meetings that extend way past her scheduled work day schedule, speaks with parents in the evening and weekend, due to the parents working schedules, spends up to $500.00 of her own money to have what the students need in the classrooms, etc. Do I really need to go on, because I can. The list goes on and on.

Roeschen
1
Points
Roeschen 11/16/09 - 05:38 pm
0
0
Just think, if they got rid

Just think, if they got rid of some of the unnecessary administrative staff and all unnecessary teaching assistants, such as graduation coaches - a whole lot of money could be saved. But then again, if they could get rid of students who do not want to learn and only are in the class because the law says they must be, we could save a lot of money on security, etc.

humbleopinion
0
Points
humbleopinion 11/16/09 - 07:22 pm
0
0
The conservation team does

The conservation team does not work strictly for Richmond County. They work for the state and cover ALL school districts. As for the vending machines "costing" $400 per year in electricity, isn't that figured into the PROFIT they generate? How about raising the price in the vending machines by .25 or .50 per can of soda to cover the electric cost, plus create some more profit for the school?

bushwhacker
39
Points
bushwhacker 11/16/09 - 08:11 pm
0
0
most of the teachers i've

most of the teachers i've seen could do to stay away from the fridge, would help them physically and save money on health benefits. you have to look at the big picture..

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 11/16/09 - 08:15 pm
0
0
Yes, just let them get food

Yes, just let them get food poisoning from cool-packing what would have previously been healthy lunches they stored in their mini fridges or eat the cafeteria food instead and gain 50 pounds.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 11/16/09 - 08:20 pm
0
0
They could pay for the energy

They could pay for the energy used by not paying for an energy technician.

sassylassie
455
Points
sassylassie 11/16/09 - 10:27 pm
0
0
I'll bet Lou Svehla wrote

I'll bet Lou Svehla wrote this one as a way to show what Bedden's doing all day. Give us a break! This is ASININE. If you use the cetrally located fridges at the BOE or in the schools, your stuff gets stolen. Let's see some real money savers:
1. Cut Bedden's atrocious salary
2. Cut the salaries of Bradshaw, Stallings, and Wood at central office.
3.Get rid of the fleet cars used for travel.
4, Cut out the travel PERIOD, especially in the SPED department. There's no sense in so many people going to 'law" conferences, not when the Board Attorney could fill them in!
5. Get rid of the landscaping and bright lights in front of the BOE.
Now we're talking!

gargoyle
16906
Points
gargoyle 11/16/09 - 10:49 pm
0
0
Whale oil lamps are a

Whale oil lamps are a renewable energy source along with out door plumbing to save water ... I can be a Energy Tech too !!! ....

lynettesmith0313
0
Points
lynettesmith0313 11/16/09 - 11:55 pm
0
0
With silly rules like this,

With silly rules like this, is it any wonder that it is so hard to find teachers? We were at Tubman MS tonight for orchestra practice, and all the lights were out. RCBOE is waiting for a lawsuit, when someone falls and gets hurt. There were grandparents and parents there with canes and walkers, shuffling around in the dark. Very sad indeed.

Justnosey
2
Points
Justnosey 11/17/09 - 11:57 am
0
0
I'm impressed the teachers

I'm impressed the teachers had something in the room of value that wasn't toted off.

corgimom
32209
Points
corgimom 11/17/09 - 02:53 pm
0
0
Bedden's salary isn't going

Bedden's salary isn't going to be cut. The BOE had to raise it to its current level to get people to apply.

baronvonreich
0
Points
baronvonreich 11/17/09 - 03:19 pm
0
0
Hard to find teachers? Where

Hard to find teachers? Where is it hard to find teachers? There was such an uproar last August about teachers getting laid off. Alot of people who can't get technical or medical degrees get teaching degrees because of the easy college courses. I took a couple as electives and couldn't believe how easy they were.

lifelongresidient
0
Points
lifelongresidient 11/17/09 - 05:26 pm
0
0
let's see now, ms. cain and

let's see now, ms. cain and the remaining board members in their "infinite" wisdom in a bid to save $10,000 are now targeting minifridges....this is the backward thinking which has led to the county's traditional high schools consistantly failing to meet ayp, low graduation rates(please don't tout the 70% figure, that includes the magnet schools which graduate close to if not at 100% regularly-this does not give and accurate graduation rate because of the different learning model that the school board refuses to impliment with all the other schools in the county), low crct scores with laney at one point being designated as the 2nd worst school in the entire state, insufficent amount of school supplies and textbooks but always money for b-ball gymnasiums/running tracks/football stadiums for high school that fail to meet ayp on a regular basis and with a school district with the 6th highest perecentage of black males dropping out of high school in the entire country..even a higher percentage than the entire school dist of detroit michigan..but i guess as long as there is high school football the board feels everything is fine

toppergem
125
Points
toppergem 11/17/09 - 06:17 pm
0
0
Andy we generate the money to

Andy we generate the money to pay the salaries of these idiots. A minifridges...you have got to be kidding? Dr. Bedden really and you are going to sit in your office and write a policy for this dumb, stupid crap? All of this for a mere savings of less than $10,000? That is the least the system can afford to pay to insure the positive moral of the people who are tied to students ALLLLLLLLL day long? Wow! Now I have heard it all.

corgimom
32209
Points
corgimom 11/17/09 - 07:55 pm
0
0
It's not hard to find

It's not hard to find teachers, it's hard to keep them. It is a whole lot harder than you think. The average length of time for a teacher to be in the profession is 4 years.

corgimom
32209
Points
corgimom 11/24/09 - 06:14 pm
0
0
"No vacation? They work

"No vacation? They work barely half the year, never have to work a night shift or weekends or holidays and are never on call 24/7" 10 months a year is barely half the year? Don't work nights and weekends? The teachers I know are working 60-70 hours per week.

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