Atwater schools opt for comfy classroom environment

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comSeptember 15, 2013 

— Comfort is the byword for Atwater school trustees.

Following the recommendation of the Cost of Comfort Committee, Atwater Elementary School District trustees voted unanimously last week to set a 74-degree temperature for all its classrooms.

This action follows six months of study by the committee, which is made up of teachers and administrators. The district is in the middle of an energy conservation program that has included newer and more sophisticated air-conditioning and heating systems that allow temperatures to be set remotely.

“We want to make sure our children are comfortable so (they) can learn,” Trustee Joe Hoffar said Thursday. Many of the district’s classrooms are old and temperatures can vary from room to room.

Trustee Scott Lee said the No.1 issue is making sure teachers and students are comfortable in their classrooms.

Superintendent Sandy Schiber said the committee did a good job of saving the district on its energy bills as well as making sure teachers and students have the proper environment in which to work.

Setting classroom temperatures at 74 degrees instead of the previous 76-degree limit will extend the time needed to pay off the $900,000 energy refit loan by three years, but comfort and health are more important, she added.

Schiber said that the ability to turn off the cooling system during weekends and vacations will allow the district to save money on its energy bills. She said the teachers union and administrators worked side by side to resolve the comfort issue.

Trustee Larry Whitney said the committee gave good feedback, and he expects to review energy usage and comfort findings next year.

Sun-Star staff writer Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dyawger@mercedsunstar.com.

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