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District Uses $10M in Stimulus to Improve Health and Safety

  • District is taking advantage of federal funding allocated as part of the American Rescue Plan to update and modernize learning environments for students
  • The phase of work will modernize HVAC equipment at four district facilities including all three high schools and Hillyard Technical Center
  • New HVAC equipment includes advanced filtration technologies to combat the spread of airborne pathogens and support a healthier, more comfortable learning environment

blue chairs and desks in school room

St. Joseph School District (SJSD) in St. Joseph, Missouri, and Schneider Electric, announced a comprehensive facility enhancement project leveraging over $10 million in federal stimulus funds through the U.S. Department of Education’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund. Through the Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) with Schneider Electric, the project will focus on improving the air quality and comfort in schools, especially in large gathering spaces like gymnasiums and auditoriums.

SJSD will be using its ESSER dollars to address upgrades at four of the district’s facilities, including all three high schools and Hillyard Technical Center. Most notably, end-of-life HVAC systems will be replaced across all facilities, providing cooling in auditoriums, gyms and some libraries for the first time since the schools were built. These new systems include advanced filtration technologies to combat the spread of airborne pathogens and will provide students, teachers, and staff with a healthier and more modern learning environment.

“Providing a safe and healthy learning environment for our students and teachers is one of our top priorities,” said Dr. Gabe Edgar, St. Joseph School District Assistant Superintendent. “The partnership with Schneider Electric has helped us update our facilities while saving money for future improvements. These changes go beyond mechanical, they’re allowing us to modernize our facilities and give our students more comfortable environments in which to learn and thrive.”

The project is the 2nd phase of a long-term partnership that began in 2020 with a focus on making updates to six district buildings while laying the foundation for a more holistic building management to improve occupant health, comfort and efficiency. Phase 1 of the project will provide SJSD with $2.1 million in energy savings of over the life of the 15-year contract, while phase 2 provides $1.5 million in energy savings. A third phase is already in design to replace select classroom-based HVAC systems with a comprehensive boiler/chiller replacement and Ecostruxture energy controls, which will enable SJSD to safely and reliably maximize their energy efficiency. 

SJSD has faced financial challenges as they sought to improve learning environments across the district while their operational and budgetary gaps widened. Schneider Electric helped district leaders identify and navigate the process of finding and utilizing multiple funding sources for the multi-phase project that addressed infrastructure needs including air quality and student comfort.

As stimulus funding has rolled out to districts across the country, some administrators are reporting difficulty in applying these dollars in impactful ways to their core needs, according to a recent New York times article. That, coupled with specific parameters around use and timeline of the funds, make it difficult for a school district to navigate. Schneider Electric worked with SJSD to design, implement and optimize projects that could be funded with ESSER dollars.

“We are proud to continue this long-term partnership with St. Joseph School District on some really innovative solutions,” said Peter Hinkle, Account Executive, Schneider Electric. “As districts struggle to navigate the logistics involved in leveraging stimulus funds, we’re helping SJSD not only take full advantage of money to upgrade facilities but stretch those funds to have a measurable impact on the district over the next 15 years.”

The partnership with Schneider Electric enables SJSD to stretch their federal stimulus dollars and address future needs by assessing critical energy infrastructure—from utility bills to operational costs to repair and replacement forecasting—and implementing the appropriate measures to enhance efficiency, sustainability and long-term payback in terms of energy and operational savings. These upgrades free up capital dollars to be spent elsewhere, such as student programming, and ensures the federal guidelines for spending stimulus are being met.

The company has a long track record of successful partnerships with K-12 districts across the country, having designed and implemented facility improvements to nearly 850 clients, saving them over $3 billion.