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Moniteau’s solar energy use a good example

In the Tuesday, May 21, edition of the Butler Eagle, we learned about the efforts at Moniteau School District to save money and use renewable energy.

During the school board meeting Monday, the board heard a report about the energy consumption and production of the 4,000 solar panels the district installed at Moniteau Jr./Sr. High School and Dassa McKinney Elementary School. The installation of the panels used federal grant money and helped to save more than $2 million, as it also involved the replacement of the high school’s roof.

The original hope was the panels would save the district up to $125,000 a year in energy costs. The actual savings remains to be seen, but the high school has already been running on solar power since the middle of April.

A damaged power inverter at the elementary school is set to be replaced soon and the panels at the elementary school should be producing power by the summer.

The update on the solar power project came during the same meeting the board voted to approve a preliminary budget with a 4-mill tax increase. If the board approves the final budget in June, the increase for an average homeowner would amount to about $62 per year, according to business manager Austin Blauser.

The board lowered the proposed millage increase and is using more than $1 million in saved money to offset the proposed budget deficit. The increases were pinned on essential projects like sidewalk renovations as well as a nearly 20% increase in health care costs.

Managing the competing interests of providing the best education possible while being responsible with residents’ tax money requires creative solutions. Moniteau’s solar panel project is still in its early stages, but it’s an example of ways districts can save money while also using more renewable energy.

— JK

This story was updated at 3:05 p.m., May 23, to reflect Moniteau’s proposed tax increase of $62 per year for the average homeowner. A previous version of this story incorrectly said the tax increase would amount to $62 per month.

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