CARBONDALE -- Saving money in schools is tough these days.
Just ask Carbondale Area School District Superintendent Robert Mehalick and board president Gary Smedley.
But, they've been given a big gift from the state, $500,000, to help make the district's buildings more energy-efficient.
"We just haven`t been able to do anything because of costs, costs are rising, pension costs, health care costs, teachers` salaries. It wouldn`t be something we could just pull money out of our budget to do," Smedley said.
The district plans to replace lighting in the high school auditorium and gym and overhaul the HVAC systems throughout each building.
It will also continue a project that's already started: tinting the windows. It helps with security but also keeps the buildings cooler without too much strain on the air conditioning.
"Last year we did a story because we were thinking about releasing students early because of the extreme heat. This year, we actually did take the step of having an early dismissal. That`s because our buildings are not as heat efficient as they can be," Mehalick said.
The district also plans to use part of that money to renovate the former Mt. Carmel Catholic School on Farview Street in Carbondale. Carbondale Area has owned it for a few years and plans are to make it the new district office.
As a part of the grant, Carbondale Area promises to match the $500,000. Administrators think that they'll be able to pay their portion back with the energy savings over 10 years.
"Every aspect of education affects the well-being of our students, including energy. And the savings that are out there, that can just go to use for programming, to use for technology, personnel. It`s a very very big component of our overall operating budget," Mehalick added.