When the school district's massive building program (now $378 million in size) was passed in 2006, the issue was debated along many fronts. I expressed many concerns with the financing of the program, the construction plan (because there really wasn't one at the time) and the cost to clean, run and maintain all the promised new square footage.
When it came to energy costs those supporting the plan said, sure we'll have more square footage, but the buildings will be so much more efficient it won't cost any more. That was the extent of the analysis coming from the pro-building program faction on the board, as well as the D'Andrea administration.
Either those making that claim didn't have a clue or outright lied. Likely it was the former -- their desire for all these new schools blinded them to simple logic and the need for investigation.
Due to the building program, the district's debt payment rose from about $8 million to $25 million, and the life scheduled extended from 5 years to 25 years.
The annual costs to clean, run and maintain these schools has sky-rocketed too.
So far the district has added more than 700,000 sqf. Electricity costs are up about $1.3 million and that will rise $150,000 more next year with more square footage coming on line. Other public utilties are up $260,000 since the start of the building program. The district is spending another $250,000 to add plumbers, repairmen and lawn maintenance personnel. It cost $450,000 to add staff for the second elementary school in Liberty. Thus far property insurance costs are up $300,000 since the start of the building program and that will rise by another $65,000 next year as Brice Middle comes on line. It will cost $700,000 to staff and run the second middle school in Easley. Ballpark, from 2006 to through 2013-14, it looks like it is costing about $3.4 million more to run all this new square footage.
Given that, the buildings are not being cleaned properly. I believe the district added some custodians last year for the first time since the start of building program, but none will be added next year. Warranties are expiring too. It is unlikely we'll have any major system problems in the new buildings for years to come, but the older buildings will have such issues and there is no money being set aside for that.
The electricity costs are shocking. To control costs, the district has created a 15 page or so list of do's and dont's in order to curb electricity usage. That is the direction to move in, agreed. However, what the policy lacks is enforcement -- a system of rewards for those who save electricity and penalities for those who don't.
This is typical of the any government system, long on rules and policies and short on enforcement. I detailed my thoughts on that is the video above.
I'll vote for the policy, but have my doubts if it is going to put a sizable dent in the electricity bill.