Combine solar energy and a high school, and in at least one city, there is a productive partnership. It is a positive story worth sharing.

Here’s the story: “In 2017, Dr. Michael Hester became the superintendent of the Batesville School District (Arkansas). At the time, the district was underfunded by $250,000. His district paid the lowest teacher salaries out of the five districts in Independence County, Arkansas, and he was losing great teachers because of the low pay.” (Source for quotes and images – Brighter Future: A Study of Solar in Schools)

The dire situation turned around based on an energy audit and analytical thinking: “After an initial energy audit showed that the district was paying over $600,000 annually in utilities, he sought to cut energy and water costs to eliminate the budget deficit instead of shuttering schools or laying off teachers. The district partnered with energy services company Entegrity to install 759 kW of solar on two campuses along with upgrades in lighting, energy efficiency and water efficiency. Through an energy service performance contract (ESPC), Entegrity guarantees that the energy and operational savings will pay for the project costs each year and generate additional savings.”

Bottom line: In three years the district went from a $250,000 deficit to a $1.8 million surplus. “Now the district ranks first in teacher pay out of the five districts in the county.”

The superintendent is not done, either. Hester is looking at making Batesville the first zero energy school district in the state.

ECC applauds the way that this educator is leading by example.


The story about Batesville High School was told in various publications aside from the report noted above: E&E News, Generation 180, District Administration.