With increased budget cuts and unfunded mandates being passed down from the state, Macon County Schools' operation budget from year to year continues to be uncertain. This year alone, school officials found themselves scrambling to make up for a last minute $550,000 shortfall. Interim Superintendent Dr. Jim Duncan worked with the central office staff to identify any and all areas in the school system's budget that could sustain cuts.
In its second month, the school system's new energy saving program has already proved to be an easy way to lower operation costs for the schools, while increasing the district's efficiency. Starting in November, the top three school sites within the district who cut their energy costs have been recognized at the monthly Board of Education meeting.
According to Dr. Duncan, the overall utility expenses at each school were considered as well as factors that may affect specific schools, like having to light the football field at Franklin High School. Those contributing costs are considered when looking at the overall utility costs for each school.
Based on utility bills for October through November, overall, the district reduced utility bills by a total of 14 percent, or $8,592, which continues a downward trend since the program started. October's utility bills for the school system were down $7,927 from September, a two-month savings of $16,519.
The top three schools in Macon County are presented with a certificate each month. For November, East Franklin Elementary and South Macon Elementary tied for third place, both receiving the Bronze Award for reducing their school site's utility bills by 23 percent. Franklin High School received the Silver Award for reducing their energy costs by 26 percent and Union Academy took the Gold with an impressive reduction of 32 percent.
Dr. Duncan noted he hopes to see a significant decrease in December, with the schools being closed for the Christmas break.