A shortened work week this summer saved Hall County Schools about $5,000 in energy costs.
From June 6 through July 22, 12-month employees worked 10-hour days four days a week in order to see if it would save the system money. Comparing June and July energy bills from 2010 to 2011, the plan saved 50,973 kilowatt hours.
“If you look at the approximate cost per kilowatt hour, it’s about 10 cents,” said Damon Gibbs, special local option sales tax coordinator for Hall County Schools. “That’s about $5,100 the system saved.”
When it comes to saving power, Gibbs said the school system looks at kilowatt hour usage because costs can differ from year to year even if usage stays the same. About half of the system’s schools are served by Georgia Power and the other half by Jackson EMC, Gibbs said.
The schools typically use significantly less power during the summer than during the school year, he added.
“It’s going to be less any time we don’t have students in the building, even spring break and holidays,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs also said older schools are less energy efficient and larger schools, such as the high schools, are the biggest energy users.
Not all schools were closed on Fridays during the summer as some held summer school for the county.
Employees mostly responded positively to the schedule change.
“From the feedback we got, it was a chance for people to breath a little easier over the three-day weekends,” Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said. “I’m encouraged by the fact that our team members saw it as positive.”
Sixty-eight employees responded to a survey about the four-day workweeks. More than half of the respondents rated the schedule as “highly effective, I liked it” and only about 12 percent said it was “ineffective, I did not like it.”
The third question in the survey was a free response.
Most who answered this question responded positively to the shortened weeks, saying they “loved it” and “would like the option to keep the four-day week schedule.”
Some were not so favorable, though.
“I liked having the three-day weekend but coming in to work at 6 a.m. was very difficult,” one respondent said. “I had a hard time working that long and still managing to get all the things I needed to get done after work.”
Several responses showed interest in continuing the four-day workweek, but only if the time when the extra two hours could be added was more flexible.
“Please consider a variety of modified work schedules to meet individual needs, to be discussed and approved by direct supervisors,” one response said. “The lack of flexibility of this summer’s plan, particularly in light of the tone of communications RE the plan, contributed to a sense of mistrust and resentment.”
Schofield said he is open to making times more flexible for employees, but said he felt it was good to have some standard operating hours since the school system is a public service.
As far as a four-day, 10-hour school week goes, Schofield said that’s something he won’t be proposing any time soon.
Because most of the school board’s money is spent on salaries, which would not be affected by such a change, the system would only save 1.5 to 2 percent.
For the younger kids, Schofield said he doubted their attention span would last two extra hours.
“If there was ever a time when students need to go to school more rather than less, it’s in this economic time,” Schofield said.