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Energy manager hired to help local, area school districts

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By The Staff

T.J. Poliskie has been hired as district energy manager for Mercer County schools, a move the system hopes will result in major savings. In addition, he will also serve Washington County, as well as in the Burgin Independent, Danville Independent, and Lincoln County districts, collaborating in a regional partnership, Mercer Superintendent Chuck Hamilton said in making the announcement.

“At a time when budgets are tight for schools and households alike, I’m very excited that our school board has chosen to join this effort to reduce utility expenses,” said Hamilton. “Two of the pilot districts — Bullitt County and Kenton County — have recorded hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings. Even a portion of such savings would be wonderful.”

Statewide, 35 energy managers have been hired to create and implement energy efficiency practices in 130 districts statewide. The jobs are funded in part through the School Energy Managers Project, a partnership of the Kentucky School Boards Association and the Kentucky Department of Energy Development and Independence.

The project grew from a pilot one in a few buildings in 2007, and now will impact more than 1,000 schools starting this month.

Energy managers are employed by a lead agency, but work in all partnering districts. The 29 lead agencies (28 districts and the Green River Regional Education Cooperative in Bowling Green) share $2.5 million in federal stimulus grant funds during the next two years.

The grant covers up to 77 percent of salary and benefits in the first year, and approximately 50 percent in the second year. All 130 districts share the remaining costs, based on the number of schools per district.

Ron Willhite, SEMP director for the school boards association, said the training is heavily designed to educate the energy managers on resources they may call upon in their work.

“We want the impact of this program to go beyond school walls,” Willhite said. “For example, schools in Kenton, Muhlenberg and Nelson counties and the educational co-op have energy curriculum coordinators. We want students and staff to take energy lessons home and help their families to make wise energy choices. We believe these cost savings can be realized all across the state.”