Round 2 of Proposition 39 funds released; about $3 million on way to Humboldt County school districts

Humboldt County school districts will be receiving about $3 million in Proposition 39 funding for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

The second installment of $38 million from Proposition 39 goes to local educational agencies -- such as county offices of education, K-12 schools, charter schools and state schools -- and can be used to fund energy efficient projects, according to California Energy Commission Proposition 39 program manager Marcia Smith.

"The commission's responsibility was to develop a program with the state department of education and the California Public Utilities Commission," Smith said.

Humboldt County Office of Education Superintendent Garry Eagles said the funding is a nice amount of money for districts to use on energy efficient projects.

"Districts can focus on addressing maintenance or facility needs with an eye on reducing energy costs in the long run," Eagles said.

Matthew Marshall, executive director of the Redwood Coast Energy Authority -- a joint powers authority whose members include Humboldt County, Arcata, Blue Lake, Eureka, Ferndale, Fortuna, Rio Dell, Trinidad, and the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District -- said an energy efficient project could be something as simple as a lighting retrofitting project.

"Other projects could include updating windows or adding solar panels to the school, just a number of things," Marshall said. "Also, if schools are small and want to do one bid with similar projects in it, they can put their resources together to do a streamlined project. Often, the amounts are not enough to do a large project up front, so by streamlining projects, the schools can save money."

Eagles said districts can also choose to save money and accrue the funds for a larger project.

"Districts don't have to use the funds within the year it's awarded," he said. "So if there is a project that is going to cost more, then they can save funds for that."

Energy efficient projects are for existing facilities, and districts have to have state approved plans. Eagles said the plan has to document the approval of the project and track expenditures before money can be spent.

"The energy expenditure plan identifies how much energy schools have been using for the past 12 months, where the big energy hogs like buildings are,and the districts then put together plans to not use as much energy," Smith said.

According to Marshall, funding is based on the average daily attendance, with additional funding based on free and reduced price meals. The amount of funding, according to Marshall, ranges from $15,000 to $100,000-plus.

"Prop 39 is a very exciting opportunity to potentially save our local schools millions of dollars in operational costs by reducing their energy use, which of course also has significant environmental benefits and supports the local building trades sector and our economy," Marshall said.

Proposition 39: Show me the money

Minimum funding amounts to school districts based on average daily attendance:

100 students or less: $15,000

101 to 1,000 students: $50,000

1,001 to 2,000 students: $100,000

Source: California Department of Education

Melissa Simon can be reached at 441-0508 or msimon@times-standard.com.

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