Call to Order and Roll Call
Thefirst meeting of the Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Monday, July 11, 2011, at<MeetTime> 10:00 AM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Ted Edmonds, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Vernie McGaha, Co-Chair; Representative Ted Edmonds, Co-Chair; Senators Jimmy Higdon, and Jack Westwood; Representatives John "Bam" Carney, Hubert Collins, Derrick Graham, Marie Rader, Carl Rollins II, Wilson Stone, Ben Waide, and Jill York.
Guest Legislator: Representative John Will Stacy.
Guests: Clyde Caudill, legislative agent for Kentucky Association of School Administrators and Jefferson County Public Schools; Chris Baker, Kenton County Schools; Carolyn Bergs, Education Coordinator, Kentucky National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project; Rob Haney, Kenton County Schools; Greg Guess, Director, Division of Energy and Conservation, Kentucky Department for Energy Development and Independence; and Karen Reagor, State Director, Kentucky NEED Project.
Recognition of New Subcommittee Members
Representative Edmonds announced that Senator Denise Harper Angel and Representatives Dwayne Bunch, Ruth Ann Palumbo, and Ben Waide have been appointed to serve on the Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee.
The Kentucky National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project
Representative Edmonds said the mission of the NEED Project is to promote energy awareness through education for K-12 teachers and students. He asked Karen Reagor, Director, Kentucky NEED Project, to discuss the program and its impact on Kentucky’s schools.
Ms. Reagor said Kentucky was recently named “state of the year” by the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project Board of Directors and received recognition at an awards ceremony in Washington, DC, in June. The national NEED Project was established by a joint congressional resolution in 1980 and is active in all 50 states. Kentucky’s NEED Project has been in existence for 15 years. NEED is a non-profit organization that focuses on promoting energy awareness and conservation measures through education involving a network of students, educators, business leaders, government representatives, and interested citizens. The NEED Project partners with the Kentucky Department for Energy Development and Independence (DEDI), the Kentucky Energy Efficiency Program for Schools, the Green and Healthy Schools Program, and other energy conscious programs and organizations to fully develop energy education programs for Kentucky’s schools.
Ms. Reagor said that NEED recommends that schools follow eight steps to provide a strong energy education program. Step one educates students on the science of energy, including how it is transmitted and changed through various processes to produce the energy used in classroom and buildings. Step two involves helping students identify various natural resources used to produce energy and the pros and cons of the various sources of energy. The curriculum material is updated annually and is available to teachers at no charge and can be downloaded from the NEED Website. Students learn about electricity and magnetism in step three which involves in-depth discussions about coal and hydropower because they are the two major resources in Kentucky. Students are provided information in step four about fuels needed for transportation.
The Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition is developing curriculum related to a hybrid electric school bus project. Students learn about energy efficiency and conservation measures in step five. Kenton County initiated a pilot project in which student energy teams used tools provided in the NEED energy management kits to conduct research, collect data, and make recommendations for changes that can be initiated within their schools to conserve energy. Other districts have completed similar projects using the NEED blueprint for school energy teams. In step six students synthesize what they have learned and reinforce that knowledge through various projects. Step seven is a system of evaluation through polls and question banks and step eight recognizes students for what they have accomplished. Ms. Reagor said Kentucky’s students have received state and national awards for their activities.
Ms. Reagor said the Kentucky NEED Project has now completed an “Energy 101” curriculum course relating to the foundations of energy for the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) that will be a hands-on science-based technical education course for freshman and sophomore students. Teachers may participate in a variety of activities to help them understand the various types and aspects of energy and learn the curriculum and methods that can be used to teach students. Educators also receive free materials to help them fully understand the curriculum. Examples were a DVD produced by the University of Kentucky regarding coal and a book on oil and natural gas that was produced through a partnership between NEED and engineers who work in the industry. The NEED project and DEDI conduct high performance school workshops for design professionals, school administrators, school board members, and others to provide information on cost effective renovation projects that can be done to decrease energy consumption. Ms. Reagor said there are over one hundred energy star schools in Kentucky.
Ms. Reagor reiterated that the Kentucky NEED project is a non-profit organization and relies on contributions from various sources to continue its activities. Last year and in the current year DEDI provided American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds that have been used to hire additional staff including four regional coordinators, one of whom is a specialist in career and technical education. DEDI also helps fund workshops and other activities for teachers and students. Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities sponsor activities in their service areas for K-8 schools and Duke Energy and Kentucky Power also provide support. The NEED project serves all schools in Kentucky including private and parochial schools.
The packet of information provided to committee members by Ms. Reagor included an annual report, resource catalog, curriculum materials, workshop brochures, and other information related to the NEED Project and its services.
In response to a question from Representative Stone about how savings are measured when districts use geothermal energy, Ms. Reagor said that NEED relies on statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Representative Stone said it is important to know the number of districts actually using geothermal energy and the total amount it is saving those districts in energy costs. Chris Baker, the energy systems coordinator for Kenton County Schools, said that the district currently has three schools using geothermal energy and some of those schools also use other energy saving measures, such as daylight harvesting and efficient kitchens, which makes it difficult to measure actual savings from just the geothermal energy.
In response to a question from Representative Stone regarding the energy curriculum, Ms. Reagor said the curriculum has been correlated with the Kentucky core content. The foundations of energy course created for KDE is designed for 9th and 10th grade students for science credit either in career and technical education or traditional high school. Ms. Baker said that Kenton County is using a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) consultant to provide course curriculum related to renovation and construction processes including energy.
Representative Waide asked if any of the curriculum focuses on source differentiation. He said that various sources of energy, such as wind and solar, are affected by climate and weather which would not produce enough baseload to run a city 24 hours a day. He said conservation is important but the processes and materials needed to use alternative energy sources are very expensive and not practical in certain climates which adds emphasis to the importance of Kentucky’s natural resources, including coal, petroleum, and hydroelectric power. Ms. Reagor said the NEED project educates students on all sources of energy, including natural resources. She said students learn about the importance of Kentucky’s natural resources, such as coal, and its economic impact, including low utility rates. She said that even though nuclear power cannot be developed in the state at this time, students still learn about that energy source. Representative Waide reiterated that it is important for students to know that it is physically impossible for wind and solar to produce the needed baseload. Rob Haney, Director of Support Operations for Kenton County Schools, said student energy teams attended bid openings for construction of the new school, which included solar panels, and are made aware of costs associated with energy use and production.
In response to a question from Representative Waide regarding the curriculum, Ms. Reagor said the NEED curriculum developed for KDE is based on National Science Standards.
In response to a question from Senator Higdon, Ms. Reagor said that the cost for construction of high performance energy schools is relatively close to traditional construction costs. Mr. Haney said that the solar panel roof construction for the new Turkeyfoot Middle School in Kenton County was $20 higher per square foot but it is anticipated that the additional costs will be recovered through energy savings in a short period of time. Actual data on energy costs savings will not be available until the school has been occupied for at least one year. Ms. Baker said data on Kenton County’s first two high performance schools showed savings in the $35,000-$40,000 range when compared to traditional built schools of comparable size in the district. Ms. Reagor said that a vending machine project using vending misers is being conducted and results have already shown savings in energy costs.
Senator Higdon asked if members of the committee could receive a copy of the DVD produced by UK. Mr. Greg Guess, Director, Division of Energy and Conservation, DEDI, said he would provide a copy to the committee members.
In response to a question from Representative Collins, Mr. Haney said energy generated in Kenton County’s net zero school is being returned to the grid. Ms. Reagor said credit is given to the school by the energy company. Ms. Baker related that energy cannot be stored unless there is a battery backup which would significantly increase the cost of a solar energy system.
Representative Collins said it is important that any energy curriculum be based on unbiased scientific data and does not include opinions espoused by groups who oppose certain forms of energy. He said the coal industry continues to be attacked even though great improvements have been made in reducing the environmental effects of producing coal. Ms. Reagor said the NEED curriculum is based on science and concrete facts. Representative Collins said the research used should come from unbiased, factual sources. He said that the recent nuclear incident in Japan will probably delay the development of nuclear energy and coal will continue to be a critical natural energy resource.
Representative Edmonds left the meeting to attend another engagement and Senator McGaha assumed the chair.
In response to a question from Representative Carney about rural school participation in energy projects, Ms. Reagor said schools other than those listed in the material provided to the committee are using the NEED curriculum. The material only provided a list of schools that had students who submitted an energy education project.
Representative Carney asked how many districts have an energy manager. Mr. Guess said DEDI, working with the Kentucky School Boards Association (KSBA), used ARRA funds to employ 36 energy managers who work with 131 districts. Districts that had already employed energy managers cannot be paid using ARRA funds. ARRA funds are also being used to fund two part-time and two full-time curriculum coordinators who work with the 14 districts that already had energy coordinators on their staff. The salaries of the 36 energy managers were paid during the first year by 75 percent ARRA funds and 25 percent district funds. During the current fiscal year, the split will be 50/50. Mr. Guess said it is anticipated that the districts will save enough money through energy conservation to continue the employment of the energy managers. He said schools currently expend about $170 million dollars a year on energy costs, $135 million for K-12 school buildings and the remainder in diesel fuel for buses. He said an effective program can save 10-15 percent in energy costs without major capital improvements. The most effective energy managers have been those whose sole responsibility has been energy management.
In response to a question from Senator McGaha, Mr. Guess said that an energy manager job description was developed and included specific qualifications. When the jobs were announced, more than 900 applications were received with many of the applicants being extremely qualified. The energy managers were hired by the local districts with KSBA providing input during the selection process. He said the University of Louisville’s Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center provides technical advice and expertise on request to the energy managers. David Baird with the Kentucky School Boards Association said KSBA has received many positive comments from district personnel about the energy managers, although fiscal considerations may affect the number of managers retained after ARRA funds have been expended. He said that KSBA would not be opposed to the development of regulations to establish qualifications and job descriptions for energy managers.
Carolyn Bergs, regional coordinator for the NEED Project, said she works with the energy managers on curriculum and methods to affect behavioral changes in the workplace to achieve conservation. Ms. Baker said the NEED program has helped bridge the gap between energy managers and teachers and school administrators and Mr. Haney said having an energy curriculum in high schools is promoting student interest in pursuing careers in energy related fields. Mr. Guess related that Eastern Kentucky University is developing college level energy curriculum for both pre-service and in-service teachers.
In response to a question from Senator McGaha, Mr. Baird said the average annual salary for energy managers is $40,000-$45,000.
Representative Waide said fundamental concepts pertaining to energy should be taught and agreed with Representative Collins that the curriculum must be based on unbiased scientific facts. He said that since 1977 emissions from coal-fired power plants have been reduced by 83 percent and new technology has enabled the amount of coal used to produce the same amount of electricity to be cut in half. Ms. Reagor said that type of information is included in the Secondary Energy Infobook. Representative Waide encouraged the presenters to ensure that the stark differences between energy sources be taught. Ms. Baker said there are many things that can be done to conserve energy and help lessen the reliance on coal since it is more expensive to build generation plants than it is to reduce consumption.
Senator McGaha recognized Representative Stacy and allowed him an opportunity to comment. Representative Stacy said the nation needs energy independence to ensure national security and coal will continue to be a critical part of that independence. He said the representatives of the various entities providing testimony should be working with KDE on the school facilities study regarding Category 3, 4, and 5 schools and make recommendations on how to lessen energy consumption and institute conservation measures. Mr. Baird agreed with Representative Stacy that a review of energy components and usage and recommendations should be part of the Categories 3-5 school study. He said KSBA also works closely with KDE in reviewing facility plans submitted by local districts. Mr. Haney related that regulations already exist that require school districts to make projections for utility consumption for new construction projects with the goal of building net zero annual energy use facilities. Districts must also provide written justification if the new construction will not be a net zero energy design.
Ms. Baker said that a three-year study is being conducted by Northern Kentucky University in cooperation with Eastern Kentucky University on what impact the net zero energy sources had on student attendance and academic performance at the new Turkeyfoot Middle School. Mr. Guess said a few districts are installing or plan to install some of the hardware needed for solar panels during new construction so they will be ready to complete installation when funds become available. ARRA funds were used to help Kenton County pay for the solar array at Turkeyfoot Middle School and at Richardsville Elementary School in Warren County.
Representative Stacy asked if it would be possible for some of the subcommittee members to meet with representatives from KDE and the energy department to develop recommendations so that some preference could be given to districts building net zero energy facilities which may be tied to available funding in the next biennium.
Representative Stone said that energy managers should be able to quickly identify measures that can be taken without incurring additional costs and the measures institutionalized so they become the norm. He asked if an energy manager would still be needed in net zero facilities and in existing facilities once energy conservation measures are in place, since consultants may be able to provide the same service on a periodic basis. Mr. Baird said very few districts employ full time energy managers but districts have shared the costs of an energy manager. He said the energy manager also assists with student education which will be crucial to ensuring future energy conservation. Mr. Baird said that $5 million was the initial outlay for the energy manager program and $2 million in energy savings has already been realized in the first year of the program and the total $5 million may be completely offset by energy savings in the second year.
Senator McGaha announced that the next meeting will be on August 1, 2011. There being no further business to discuss, the meeting adjourned at 11:50 AM.