As schools trim energy costs, one leads the way

KINDERHOOK – The Ichabod Crane Central School District has received the Energy Star label from the federal Environmental Protection Agency again this year. The district calculates it has saved $678,405 in energy costs over the 4 years it has had the Energy Star label.

And the Chatham Central School District is now considering how it can reduce its energy bills and some of the waste it creates.

Ichabod Crane Schools Superintendent James Dexter discussed the Energy Star award with the school board at the March 30 meeting. He said that the school has received the label for the fourth year in a row for all five buildings in the district and he stressed the financial savings that comes with being more energy efficient.

The district, like many others in the county and around the state, is facing tough economic times. The board is proposing a $38-million budget for the 2010-11 school year that would see 39 staff jobs cut and the elimination of many extra-curricular activities.

Referring to the energy savings, Mr. Dexter told the board, “Without this we would be up a creek another $100,000.”

Mr. Dexter said in a press release that the district’s energy conservation efforts are not only saving money for taxpayers, the programs have an environmental benefit, “reducing our carbon footprint by 9,927 metric tons.” The district’s buildings have reduced total electricity use by 20.1% and total fuel oil use by 15.5%.

“We are proud of the staff’s response to the challenge of reducing energy consumption,” he said in the release.

At the meeting he gave a lot of credit to the work of Bob Thorsey, the district’s energy manager, and Steve Marotta, the director of facilities. The press release said that the district is a “top performer” in the Energy Star Program and that Ichabod Crane is the only school in the state to earn the label for each building for four consecutive years.

Ichabod Crane’s success has spurred neighboring districts to look into ways to make their buildings more environmentally friendly and energy efficient. Chatham is currently planning a capital project funded by federal economic stimulus money and capital reserve funds, which will include using energy efficient light bulbs in some of their district buildings.

Schools Superintendent Cheryl Nuciforo also talked about the prospect of replacing single-use trays in the cafeteria with a dish washing system. That would create less waste in schools. At the last board meeting March 23, she said parents had asked her about making that change and she is looking into whether it should become part of the capital project.

Ms. Nuciforo and Chatham board members will be meeting with community groups about the proposed $27-million budget and cuts to district staff throughout this month. For more information about those meetings go to the district website,

The next Ichabod Crane board meeting will be April 13. For more information about the district’s budget go to the district website,

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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