Personal appliances fall victim to budget cuts

By Katie Olson and Paris Walther | Published Sunday, March 27, 2011

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Due to the proposed state budget cuts, Decatur Independent School District is seeking solutions to alleviate the deficit. As a result, teachers are being asked to leave their electrical appliances, such as candle warmers, space heaters, fans and coffee pots, at home.

However, teachers and students feel there may be better alternatives as a solution.

Mary Pace, English IV and DAEP teacher

YouthSpoken 2001Pace, who kept a mini fridge, a coffee pot and a Scentsy warmer in her room, feels the inconvenience. However, Pace understands the reasoning for taking out personal electrical appliances.

“Some appliances require a great deal of electricity that pull a lot of amps creating power surges,” she said.

However, the reason teachers keep fans or heaters in their rooms is due to the irregular temperatures in the building.

“If the district is truly interested in conserving energy, they need to regulate the building temperatures. Students should not have to wear winter coats to stay warm in the classroom when it’s 75 degrees outside,” Pace said.

Katie Olson

Aside from the fluctuating temperatures, teachers contend with putting their lunches in refrigerators located in the first and second floor teacher’s lounges.

“There is not always time to walk down to the office between classes to get lunch or a snack,” she said.

With the two refrigerators provided, teachers also deal with a lack of storage space, and sometimes food even goes missing.

“Perhaps a fridge in each teacher workroom would alleviate the problem,” Pace said.

For a better alternative to saving energy, Pace hopes the district will first look at the overall efficiency of the buildings before it cuts any more small conveniences.

“I will do whatever I’m asked if it means saving someone’s job or a valuable program. And if that means my 20-watt candle bulb needs to go, then that’s just how it has to be,” Pace said.

Terry Stewart, Spanish I, III, & IV teacher

Stewart’s coffee pot of 12 years and electric candle burner of four sit in his room, unplugged and unused.

Paris Walther

“They’re trying to cut corners everywhere they can. Everyone has to do their part to try and save money,” he said

Though disappointed with the changes, he understands they’re legitimate rules.

“I realized it was against fire code,” he said. “We’re not supposed to have appliances in our room. It’s the law, and it’s a rule so it’s cool with me.”

A Spanish teacher at Decatur High School, Stewart arrives at the campus between 6 and 6:45 every morning to assist students who need extra help before school.

“(The coffee maker) is just a convenience; sometimes we stay until 5 or 6 at night,” he said. “It has nothing to do with being spoiled. It’s just a convenience.”

Though he used the coffee maker for personal use, he believes appliances like a candle warmer and lamps benefit students.

“It makes the room a more inviting environment,” he said.

Since the new rule was enforced, a coffee maker has been installed in the main lounge for teachers to use.

“If I want coffee I usually just go to Starbuck’s or the lounge to get coffee now,” he said.

With all the sacrifices and cutbacks, Stewart knows he must do his part.

“We all do what we have to do,” he said. “If it means saving money then so be it. If all the wattage adds up, then maybe it would save a position or go to a program or something.”

Student input

Though the new rule doesn’t affect them directly, students feel as though yanking appliances isn’t the way to go.

“I think if the teacher’s willing to go and buy it and bring it up to the school themselves, they should be able to have it in their classrooms,” sophomore Hannah Alling said.

Upon hearing about the new rule to cut appliances, Alling didn’t agree.

“I didn’t really see the point because there are so many other things we could cut,” she said.

Instead, she feels an alternative method of saving energy could be even more beneficial than current measures.

“We could completely shut off all power sources to the school for two weeks in the summer when no one is here anyway,” she said.

Even with all the energy-saving tips, Alling doesn’t believe it will be worth it in the end.

“I think [the new rule] will be such a small percentage that it won’t matter in the long run,” she said.

For students like senior Clint Logue, cutting appliances to save energy is a necessary evil to conserve energy.

“It’s obviously not going to be a lot, but we need to take the necessary steps to solve the budget shortfall,” Logue said.

Compared to cutting jobs and programs at the school, taking out personal electrical appliances is the better alternative.

“I’d hate to take away the few perks a student has,” he said. “But I think everyone has to sacrifice a little with less revenue coming in.”

How much each place costs for KWH from Sept. 2009- Aug. 2010

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