Chairwoman of White House Council on Environmental Quality visits Grandview Elementary School

September 16, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER |
  • Nancy Sutley, center, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality toured Grandview Elementary School in Chambersburg (Pa.) on Friday.
By Roxann Miller

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — President Obama's principal adviser and chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality could have toured any school in the nation, but she chose Grandview Elementary School in Chambersburg (Pa.) on Friday.

 "I think it's a good example for schools across the country that if you can do it here — you can do it anywhere," Nancy Sutley said of the school built in 1950.

She toured the ENERGY STAR-certified school, meeting with administrators, teachers and students to learn how they had implemented cost-cutting energy measures.

President Obama last week proposed the American Jobs Act to put Americans back to work modernizing schools, fixing roads and bridges and growing small businesses.

 "I think part of the reason the American Jobs Act includes proposals to renovate schools is that it creates jobs immediately, but it's an investment in our schools. It's really an investment in our future," she said.

 Sutley came to Grandview because she said it's a great example of what a small, rural school can accomplish in energy savings.

Connie Kelley, energy educator/manager for the school district was hired in 2007. She has achieved more than $2 million in cost savings districtwide through energy-efficiency measures, including energy upgrades.

Kelley said utility spending is the second highest budget item in most school districts, with the first being salaries and benefits.

"Hopefully, that money can be filtered in other avenues toward textbooks, programs or teachers' salaries. This is money that would have gone to utility companies that our business department now has to use in the school district," Kelley said.

"They were looking for an ENERGY STAR school to visit, and they knew we had some significant savings, so they were coming to see what we were doing here," she said.

Fifth-grade student Maxwell Doctor, 11, Chambersburg, Pa., couldn't believe that he got a chance to meet someone who works with the president on a daily basis.

"It was pretty amazing (when she walked into the classroom)," Doctor said.

 Not only has Grandview Elementary upgraded its heating and air conditioning,  and lighting, but the students have gotten involved in energy conservation.

 Julianne Grove, 10, Chambersburg has a very important job as "Energy Saver."

 "I turn off the lights when they aren't using them like when the class goes to lunch," Grove said

 Myles Reed, 10, Chambersburg, couldn't wait to get home to tell his parents about meeting one of the president's advisers.

"She works with the president, and that's actually really cool that she came to this school in this little town in Chambersburg," he said

What he learns in class, he practices at home by turning off his video games and television when he leaves the room.

"If you save energy you don't have to pay more money, and you have more money for other things," Reed said.

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