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School District Taps Stimulus Funds to Make Facility Upgrades

  • Federal stimulus funds and a state grant make improvements possible in the face of budget limitations

  • Upgrades will reduce energy and operational costs by 23% and save $9.9M

  • New technology improves learning environments for students, teachers, and staff

Men standing next to banner stand for the district

Lewis-Palmer School District 38 in El Paso County, Colorado, will improve the learning environment and upgrade aging infrastructure to support more than 5,000 students across eight schools. The project, implemented through an Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) with Schneider Electric, focuses on strategically reinvesting utility and maintenance savings into facility enhancements and streamlined operations to create a world-class learning environment. Upgrades include automation, lighting and HVAC systems that will reduce utility and operational costs by up to 23 percent and generate more than $9.9 million for the school district over the next 20 years.

Like many K-12 school districts nationwide, limited funding dictated the speed at which critical facility upgrades could take place. The district was unable to pass a bond or obtain the funding necessary to tackle a deferred maintenance backlog and improvements, leaving them with only limited general dollars to tackle critical needs such as urgent repairs. Without alternate funding, it would have taken the district 5 to 7 years to address all their capital project needs.

Through creative funding sources like the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER II) and the Colorado Department of Education’s Building Excellent Schools of Tomorrow (BEST) Grant, Schneider Electric was able to not only address existing needs, but substantially expand the scope of the project to improve classroom comfort and operations across the district.

“To accomplish these types of projects successfully, it’s so important to listen to stakeholders across the district, including teachers, students, and administrators to identify where improvements should be made,” said William Benish, Program Manager, Schneider Electric. “This essential input allows our team to not only think strategically, but also stretch funds beyond deferred maintenance to address other unfunded priorities like security measures in time for the new school year.”

Security vestibule at collegeSchneider Electric will optimize the districts building automation platforms, reducing their original four separate systems down to two. Most of the sites will be implemented with a new smart EcoStruxure system designed to improve building performance and operational efficiency. In addition, efficient LED lighting will be installed at all campuses along with upgrades to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, further improving the classroom experience. Savings from these new systems made it possible for the district to tackle one of its most pressing needs – upgrading security at three schools with the addition of security vestibules and interior walls, which control access to the buildings.

Watch now: FOX21 tours Lewis-Palmer’s facilities with Dr. Somers.

“Like so many school districts, Lewis-Palmer School District 38 has had to contend with aging infrastructure and financial constraints that have compounded over time,” said Dr. KC Somers Superintendent, Lewis-Palmer School District 38. “Through our partnership with Schneider Electric, we were able to cross several deferred maintenance projects off our list while also improving the environment for our students, faculty and staff. Our accomplishments with the Schneider Electric team – particularly in the middle of a global pandemic – are nothing short of incredible.”

Learn the key steps a district can take to make the most of their stimulus dollars in the eBook: 5 Steps to stretch your stimulus funding.