Batesville school featured on daytime talk show
BATESVILLE ?? An energy-saving project in the Batesville School District, which began more than two years ago, has come full circle and has finally come to fruition.
In 2017, the district developed a strategic plan that included closing campuses, conducting an energy audit, and installing 1,600 solar panels. The district also changed its water from high-flow to low-flow for all seven campuses and installed new insulation and double-glazed windows. There are currently 1,483 solar panels at the high school, but all panels distribute power to all campuses.
Megan Renihan, the district’s communications coordinator, said a lot of groundwork and investments in other energy-efficiency upgrades were completed before the solar panels were installed.
With these energy savings, which saved the school about $1.5 million in 2019, the district was able to increase teacher salaries in 2020 between $2,000 and $9,000, depending on the longevity of the school. teacher job.
Now the district has received national media attention after being featured on an episode of “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” a daytime talk show on NBC. Renihan and Jeanne Roepcke, the high school EAST host, were guests on the show, which aired Jan. 7. To watch the clip, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mAK6fNluQM.
“It was a great opportunity to show the amount of work our board members and our superintendent have done over the past few years,” Renihan said. “The producers were amazing to work with – they were so nice and energetic.
“What you saw on the show was all the time we spent with Kelly, but she was for and okay with the idea.”
Renihan said that initially, to help cover the cost of the minimum wage increases, the district requested money from the state. She said the school had been told it would have to come up with the money from its own budget.
“We had to figure out what we could do internally that could benefit the district,” she said.
Renihan said the district went from the fourth-highest teacher salary of the county’s five schools to the highest.
“I commend the members of the Batesville School District Board of Trustees for being visionaries who pioneered the state’s first and largest pre-K-12 solar and energy-efficient project,” said Michel Hester, district superintendent. “The revenue generated from these solar panels and the energy savings have been applied to the pay scale for teachers in the district.
“Batesville has now moved from the bottom quartile of state salaries to the top half. The BSD Board is currently pursuing more effective initiatives and partnerships to further its goal of being in the top quartile of teacher salaries from Arkansas.
Roepcke, who has worked in the district for 23 years and worked in high school for 10, said the show’s producers and Clarkson both made them feel very welcome and liked.
“The producers were so kind and so helpful,” Roepcke said. “I’m so grateful to the district for taking the leap and stepping forward to find ways to raise teacher salaries.
“It was great.”
Renihan said one of the reasons Roepcke was chosen to represent the district on the show was that before the raise was implemented, Roepcke worked part-time at the community center. Now, thanks to the raise, she has been able to reduce her hours and spend more time with her family and focus more on her students.
“I’m the kind of person who likes to stay busy,” Roepcke said, “so I’ll still keep the second job for a bit, working weekends, but this increase this year has allowed me to scale back.”
Roepcke’s son, Talan, graduated from Batesville High School in 2010 and now works as an art teacher and assistant high school baseball coach for the district.
“He’s in his fifth year, but knowing that the district is watching teachers come in and wanting them to have better pay — that means a lot to me,” Roepcke said. “We have a lot of hard-working teachers in high school, and I appreciate all of them and the work they do.
“I appreciate the district wanting to step up and retain these teachers.”
“The Kelly Clarkson Show” also donated $1,000 to the school district, surprising Renihan and Roepcke on air. Roepcke said she would like the school to use the money to create a scholarship for seniors.
Renihan said she and Roepcke went on the show after one of the show’s producers caught wind of the district’s plans, through numerous posts and podcast interviews featuring Hester. The initial interview for the show took place on December 16. She said it was “such an awesome experience”.
Editor Sam Pierce can be reached at (501) 244-4314 Where [email protected].