ACKERMAN, Miss. (WCBI) – Monday, the Choctaw County School District held an event to celebrate receiving a $100, 000 Learning Environment Grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority.
The money will go towards energy upgrades and improved learning environments for the students at Choctaw County High School.
“The idea behind the pilot program was to invest into schools, so schools can use the grants to make the learning environment better,” says TVA energy services consultant David Sparks.
Choctaw County High School is the first school in Mississippi to be selected for the TVA’s School Uplift Program.
“We’ve got some old buildings and many of those have the old rollout windows,” says Choctaw County School District Superintendent Glen Beard. “Those have become, over the years, rather drafty in the wintertime or summertime, it gets rather hot.”
Beard says this is the largest grant the school district has ever received. He says about 80 percent will go towards building upgrades.
“We’ll be able to replace those with new, more energy-efficient windows,” he says. “It allows your heating and cooling system to become more efficient too and you’ll burn less energy.”
The other 20 percent will go to the learning environment, which Beard says they want the students heavily involved in.
“Learning kits or environmental things of that nature, say, microscope kits or things of that nature for biology,” he offered as examples.
Choctaw County High was chosen based on their energy plan for saving about 10 percent a year on their energy bill.
“They engaged the schools, the kids, the community and that’s really what we look for,” Sparks says. “How is the plan not just going to impact the highest school, but how is it benefiting the community?”
The school also received a recommendation from 4-County Electric Power Association.
“TVA came to all the distributors…and said, ‘Look, if you have any good testimonials, good areas in your community that can use the money, come to us and let us know and we’ll vet them,’” says 4-County Electric CEO Brian Clark.
Especially rural communities where the money would make the most difference.
“Which will translate to student learning because, they’re not too hot, not too cold,” Beard says. “All that can affect learning.”
The upgrades to Choctaw County High School are scheduled to begin once the spring semester ends and the goal is to have everything installed by the time classes start in the fall.