The Mountain Home School District has been recognized for its efforts to adopt sustainability practices. These changes have made district facilities progressively more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.The first Local Sustainability Hero Award of 2020 was presented to the district by the Twin Lakes Sustainability Volunteers. This local organization awards two Hero designations annually to area businesses, institutions or individuals who prove their commitment to sustainability through their actions.
Its director, Ann Segura, said the group was amazed to learn how much work the school district has done in recent years to become more sustainable. For years, as much paper as possible has been recycled. In 2017, all lighting in district facilities was changed to LEDs. Not only has this used much less energy, but it has saved the district about $100,000 per year in utility costs.
When Chris Knight became auxiliary services director for the district, he began plans to do even more. At the prompting of Superintendent Dr. Jake Long, Knight researched ways to eliminate waste in school cafeterias. As of 2019, Styrofoam trays are no longer used, and plastic eating utensils have also been eliminated. Students now eat from actual plates with stainless flatware.
According to District Food Service Supervisor Pam Burns, more than 51,000 such meals have been served so far in the school year, eliminating almost 300,000 plastic eating utensils and 150,000 Styrofoam trays. As an added bonus, she has noticed the students seem to enjoy their food more, because it is better presented and more appetizing, and allowing them to choose which dishes they want has reduced food waste.
Knight says he intends to continue searching for ways to make the district’s facilities more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. One possibility on the horizon would make district facilities 100% renewable through an agreement to buy solar-generated electricity from Entergy. If that proposal comes through, it will lower the district’s energy bill by $60,000 a year.
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