School's lights out energy saving policy concerns parents -, GA News Weather & Sports

School's lights out energy saving policy concerns parents

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It's a delicate balance, saving money while still providing a safe environment for students to learn. Some parents in prattville are afraid their school isn't finding the middle ground, and they're demanding a change.

"We closed out fiscal year '11 with $200,000 in the bank, and we had to tap $2 million off a $5 million line of credit just to make payroll," said Autauga County School Superintendent Spence Agee. So this fall he looked for every possible avenue to save money.

"We spent $1.4 million last year on electricity alone," Agee said of his tight budget. "We said, "Principals, we want you to come up with a conservation effort for your school.""

Prattville Elementary decided it would just continue its 3 year habit of "Black Out Fridays", going dark all day long.

"The parents don't know!" said Susan Bowland, one of only a few parents who are aware of the policy.  She has big concerns. Top of list: Safety.

Bowland and another mother came up with a statement, addressing the Autauga County Board of Education.

"We are very aware of the budget constraints of our local school system, but saving money on a power bill should never take priority over our children's safety and education," she read.

 Superintendent Agee agrees, even paying a visit to the school Friday to see for himself.

"It's was a little dark, the halls were a little dark, the lunchroom was a little dark," the superintendent admitted. "You may not be able to recognize somebody's face," he added, promising to make some adjustments.

Now, a compromise appears to be in the works, something Bowland says makes her feel a little better. "I'll be satisfied with a compromise," she said.

Meanwhile, the superintendent will continue with his mission to conserve every possible dollar he can. "We have banks of lights off here, and have our thermostat set at a certain temperature," he said, attempting to save money anywhere he can.

Also making a visit to the school Friday was the Prattville Fire Marshall who inspected the facility and said he found no violations.

The Autauga County School system saved more than $19,000 in December after implementing its energy conservation plan.

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