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Community Commentary: More information about Dwyer's solar arrays

February 09, 2011|By Celia Jaffe

In the Huntington Beach City School District, we are proud of the energy conservation and solar energy generation project approved last April and presently being implemented throughout our nine schools. Energy-efficient lighting has already been installed districtwide, and three of the five sets of solar arrays are under construction. The project is positive for the environment, reducing the carbon footprint of our district. It is the equivalent of removing nearly 250 cars from the road. The project is fiscally responsible for our schools, with energy cost savings and solar incentives paying for construction costs and additionally adding about $75,000 to our bottom line annually.

I hope that providing additional information and clarification about the whole project, and Dwyer Middle School solar placement in particular, will prove helpful:

1. The normal functions of Dwyer will continue essentially unchanged once the construction is complete and the fence is removed in a few weeks. Eighth-grade promotion will be on the front lawn as usual; students will be free to sit on the grassy slope or take advantage of the shade under the solar arrays; physical education activities and sports will continue on that front field. It is likely that the sports field boundary lines will need to be shifted a bit toward Palm Avenue, and the P.E. department will be working out adjustments to the mile-run route and so on, but it will be pretty much business as usual.

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2. A project like this is only possible for the school district because it makes fiscal sense. Certainly, we care about the environment and the example we are setting for our students and for the community in our commitment to energy conservation; nonetheless, this can only be accomplished because the project works financially. Huntington Beach schools, like all California public schools, are in the midst of an unprecedented funding crisis. Our school year is shorter this year and our class sizes larger because of funding cuts. The idea of sinking several years' worth of our energy savings into an alternate location at Dwyer was just not feasible. Members of our community often state that they are in favor of solar energy in general, and putting that abstract belief into practice within our financial constraints is what our district is accomplishing.

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