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Warsaw Community Schools goes solar

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Photo courtesy Warsaw Community Schools

WARSAW, Ind. – Tuesday was a long-awaited day for the Warsaw community.

Since January, installation of solar panels has been priority for school administrators as six of the district’s schools would eventually be powered by solar energy.

After five months since the beginning of project in partnership with First Source Bank, school leaders were able to cut the ribbon for their newest solar panel field.

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Warsaw Community Schools Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert thought generating solar energy would fit right in with their mission for quality STEM education.

“We’re really big with STEM education. We’re one of the national leaders here in Warsaw. And solar energy was getting to a point where it was usable and it was also educational-friendly. And so as we went through the building project, we came up with some of the ideas of what would it be like if we could put up some solar panels and power our STEM educational labs?” said Hoffert. “Here over the last year and a half, as we’ve started studying this out more, we’ve realized not only is it a great educational tool but it can also be a wonderful cost savings to our school in the long run.”

He wants students to spark a curiosity of what the panels do and how they work.

“We put them in places where we want students to be able to explore. You look at the apps that go along with the solar panels, they can be tracking on a daily basis how much energy is going into the grid. We’ve already started that educational process in some of our schools,” he said.

NIPSCO and Kosciusko County REMC will help out with the educational pieces and how the curriculum will fit in with the solar panels.

By producing the green energy, the school system has basically locked in their energy rate for the next 20 years, according to Chief Financial Officer Brandon Penrod.

“We’ll save around 10 million dollars in costs at those six schools.” He explained, “It’s basically just taking money that was going to be used for electricity and using it for solar instead.”

The plan is to filter the saved money back into the teachers and invest more in the classroom.

“It could do everything from class sizes to forward looking at teacher raises,” said Hoffert.

The classrooms he talked about are nestled in Lakeview Middle School, Edgewood Middle School, Harrison Elementary, Eisenhower Elementary, Madison Elementary, and Leesburg Elementary.

“We’re very excited on how this works out, were thankful for the partnerships in our local community to make this possible,” he continued. “It’s not an immediate payback and we know that this is long-term.”

Per the agreement with NIPSCO, WCS will be even be able to sell back the excess energy produced.

“If we can have the educational aspect that goes with it but we can also create a long term cost savings for our community tax payers and for our schools, then this would be a win-win in every case,” said Hoffert.


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