Mesquite ISD Case Study

Energy Efficiency Lowers Mesquite ISD Facility Costs

Mesquite Independent School District has a new spin on an old saw – a penny saved is a lesson learned.

“We are a property-poor district well below the state average in our funding revenues, so we have a history and a culture of ‘doing more with less,’” says Linda Henrie, Mesquite ISD superintendent. “ The culture change involved all of us focusing on conservation. Our employees understand that dollars saved in operations result in additional dollars that can go toward educating our students.”

In the past five years, the district has emphasized energy efficiency, replacing incandescent bulbs with energy-conserving fluorescents, which cut energy costs 10 percent. It also replaced electric water heaters in its cafeterias with higher-efficiency natural gas units and installed a centrally controlled heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system.

The district partnered with its electric provider, Oncor, which provided $564,000 in rebates through its SCORE program.

Henrie says a change in how temperatures are controlled is an example of the culture change.

“Years ago, classrooms had their own thermostats that could be set to individual preferences.” she says. “Knowing that in a district of our size every dollar counts — and small changes can add up to huge savings — our Board adopted a policy establishing set points and automatic on/off times that are centrally managed for the entire district. Now, our classroom and facility temperatures remain comfortable when necessary, but we are able to better conserve energy during non-peak times.”

Mesquite ISD’s conservation and efficiency program has quantifiable savings since a facility maintenance program was launched in the 2006-07 school year. By 2009-10, Mesquite ISD had reduced maintenance and operations spending by $2.5 million.

In 2006-07, district spent $914 per student on facility maintenance and operations, an amount 13 percent higher than the statewide average. By 2009-10, its per student facility cost was only $811, 12 percent below the state average.

Cost-effective practices such as these have enabled Mesquite ISD to be one of only 23 Texas districts to achieve a five-star FAST rating the last two school years, meaning that it has very low spending compared with its fiscal peers and ranks among the top fifth of districts across the state in student academic progress. MISD, a Texas Education Agency “Wrecognized” district with an enrollment of 37,653 in 2010-11, also has four campuses that are members of the 2011 FAST Texas Honors Circle.

“We are so proud of the academic achievements our district has been able to realize despite our limited finances and the challenges that come with educating students who, for the most part, come from a lower socioeconomic background.” Henrie says. “We have high expectations for all students, and our employees care a great deal about helping them become successful in the face of any challenges. Our accomplishments are the result of a team effort across all departments and campuses.”

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