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Hope Schools Thank Community for Ensuring Bright Future with Solar Panels

District holds a celebration to mark the completion of new power structures expected to save $60,000 in a year

Students and staff members of the Hope Elementary School District thanked the community Wednesday for supporting Measure L, which paved the way for one of its biggest projects — Monte Vista School’s new solar panel structures that cover the main quad and parking areas.

The bond money was used to install 936 solar panels this summer at Hope, Monte Vista and Vieja Valley schools. Vieja Valley has 252 solar panels, Hope has 336 and Monte Vista has 348.

The panels will save the district about $60,000 in electricity bills each year and bring in $430,000 in rebates from Southern California Edison within the first five years, according to Superintendent Dan Cooperman.

The district has embraced renewable energy in its curriculum, too. Students showed off their solar-powered cars and solar ovens — made from pizza boxes and foil — that were melting chocolate and marshmallows. A few of them had graham crackers, too, but since they had been “cooking” for two days, the students weren’t planning to eat their concoctions.

Measure L’s other big purchases — iPads and iTouch devices with instructional programs — are also being used for solar-related lessons. Students made videos on Vimeo about the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy and had QR codes at their tables so event-goers could access the videos from their phones or the iPads.

Cooperman said teaching students about conserving resources, renewable energy and recycling is the greatest value from the solar panel project.

The event served as a thank you to community members and elected officials for supporting Measure L and to the companies who completed the solar panel project while students were on summer vacation.

MarBorg Industries was also honored for providing free waste, recycling and food collection services for the district, which is part of the effort to reduce the schools’ carbon footprint.

Hope District students Joslyn and Camryn cook marshmallows and chocolate in their solar ovens, made of pizza boxes, foil, plastic wrap and newspaper for insulation.
Hope District students Joslyn and Camryn cook marshmallows and chocolate in their solar ovens, made of pizza boxes, foil, plastic wrap and newspaper for insulation. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

MarBorg vice president David Borgatello said the company began helping out, as it does with the Goleta Union School District, one year ago, which saves the Hope district $30,000 each year. He said he hopes the company is helping to save a teaching position.

The food scrap compost program came about when the district realized it was throwing away 100 pounds of food per day per school of lunch waste and had added a half-million foam trays to city landfills from 10 years of use. The schools now use recyclable trays, and the lunch waste is down to less than 10 pounds per day, according to GATE coordinator and event organizer Carrie Garner.

Tony Winterbauer, president of the Hope district’s Board of Trustees, helped lead the Measure L campaign, and on Wednesday he thanked his colleagues, former board members and Cooperman for their foresight in pursuing solar energy. Other honorees also commended the district for its work and were impressed by the pride and enthusiasm of the students.

Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, Santa Barbara County 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf and representatives from PMSM Architects, Maino Construction Co. and Thoma Electric Co. were recognized for their contributions. Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara; Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara; and 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal sent representatives on their behalf.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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