Eastern Kentucky PRIDE

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Darren Sparkman saves energy and money at Morgan County Schools

PRIDE's Mark Davis presented the Volunteer of the Month Award to Darren Sparkman, facilities director and energy manager for the Morgan County School District.

PRIDE’s Mark Davis presented the Volunteer of the Month Award to Darren Sparkman, facilities director and energy manager for the Morgan County School District.

PRIDE has honored Darren Sparkman for leading a winning team at the Morgan County School District.

Sparkman, who is the district’s facilities director and energy manager, oversees the district’s campaign to conserve energy. A 2008 state law required all Kentucky public school districts to adopt such campaigns in response to rising energy costs.

The Morgan County School District has been so successful in conserving energy, its progress ranks second among all Kentucky schools. The district lowered its score from 119 to 69 on the State Energy Utilization Index, which looks at all energy sources, from electricity to natural gas to diesel fuel. That was the second largest score decrease by a Kentucky school district.

Energy-saving measures have included installing energy-efficient lights in school gyms and designing the new Wrigley Elementary School to meet the highest energy-efficiency standards.

“So far this school year, we have saved $9,000 on energy, compared to where we were this time last year,” Sparkman said. “We saved $44,000 in our first year, but we don’t see savings like that any more because energy prices are going up so much. At least we’ve kept our energy bills from going up as prices increased.”

“It’s been a group effort,” Sparkman added. “Everyone in the district works together, from the superintendent and board members down to teachers and students. Everyone has to be involved to make it work.”

“When Mr. Sparkman first accepted the challenge of becoming the facilities director for our school district five years ago, he immediately embraced the concepts of reducing energy usage and finding smart ways to become more ‘green.’ He has proven that it is quite possible to take older facilities and reduce their environmental footprint, at a savings to our district,” said Superintendent Deatrah Barnett.

“We are fortunate to have Mr. Sparkman as a valued member of our district team,” Barnett added. “His dedication and willingness to go the extra mile exemplifies what a great choice he is for this recognition and Morgan County Schools salute his accomplishments.”

“I commend the entire Morgan County School District for leading the state in energy conservation, and I want to thank Darren Sparkman for guiding the way,” said Mark Davis, who presented the PRIDE Volunteer of the Month Award to Sparkman.

“Mr. Sparkman has gone above and beyond the call of duty to make sure students are involved as the school system finds ways to save money by saving energy,” Davis said.

For example, Sparkman encourages friendly competition among the schools by tracking schools’ energy savings and announcing the results every three months. Students and faculty can see they make a big difference by adopting a few new habits, such as turning off lights and computers when not in use.

“Right now, the high school is in first place by using 140,000 kWh less than they had used by this time last year,” Sparkman said.

“It’s been good for the students to see that they can conserve energy,” Sparkman said. “They can do these things at home and save money there. Little things that save on your usage will save you money. Energy prices have been going up lately, so you may not see your electric bill go down, but at least it’s not going up as much as it could have.”

“Darren has made tremendous savings on school energy, and he continues to make Morgan County Schools cleaner, safer and environmentally friendly,” said Linda Rose, who is the Morgan County PRIDE Coordinator. She nominated Sparkman for the PRIDE award.

“Darren has been instrumental in incorporating the Green and Healthy Schools program here,” Rose added. That state program recognizes students for developing and implementing environmental improvements in their schools.

Rose also gave Sparkman credit for setting up a recycling program that works well at every school. He recently started selling the schools’ paper and cardboard to a recycler.

The PRIDE Volunteer of the Month program recognizes hard work and dedication to the PRIDE initiative, which promotes environmental education and cleanup efforts in a 42-county region. With corporate sponsorship from TECO Coal, WYMT-TV airs commercials about each PRIDE Volunteer of the Month.



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