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SAISD awarded $100,000 Energy CLASS Prize; Train the Trainer initiative to expand district’s Energy Champions
May 19, 2023 – San Antonio ISD was selected as a winner of the 2023 Energy Champions Leading the Advancement of Sustainable School Prize, also known as the Energy CLASS Prize. The district was awarded $100,000 in this competition, run by the Office of State and Community Energy Programs at the U.S. Department of Energy.

In addition to the cash prize, as a Phase 1 winner, SAISD gains access to training, coaching, and skills development from professionals in the newly established Energy CLASS Prize Training Network. The district may also be eligible for an additional $50,000 in funding at the end of Phase 2. 

“We earned this distinction for our commitment to reducing energy use, while improving air quality and learning environments in our schools,” said Dr. Ken Thompson, SAISD deputy superintendent. “We could not be more excited to be a part of the Training Network and to implement lasting energy improvements in our schools.”

The Energy CLASS Prize is a two-phase, $4.5 million competitive award promoting energy management in school districts across the country. The competition was designed to help some of the nation’s highest need K-12 schools make critical clean energy and health improvements by establishing, training, and supporting energy managers – or Champions – in their districts.

As a result of the prize, SAISD has named four Team Energy Champions, who will oversee the project: Mike Eaton, chief operations officer; Nathan Graf, senior executive director of transportation; Chris E. Salley, senior executive director of facilities; and Samuel Vargas, energy manager. An additional nine custodial managers and 12 heating, air conditioning, and ventilation technicians and electricians will receive professional development through the Texas Energy Managers Association, as well as online continuous improvement courses – making them Energy Champions as well.

The training of these Energy Champions will first positively impact 12 elementary schools. Following the professional development, and through a train the trainer model, all facility technicians and custodial managers will receive training – exponentially growing the number of district Energy Champions.

This prize marks the first time the SAISD Facilities team has been awarded a grant. However, it also continues SAISD’s commitment to energy and sustainability. In 2022, the district’s Energy & Sustainability Program was awarded The Texas Environmental Excellence Award from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in the category of Innovative Operations/Management. Additionally, in the fall of 2021, the program won the national Renew our Schools energy competition.

The Energy CLASS Prize is authorized by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The Department of Energy announced 25 Phase 1 Prize Winners in May, representing approximately 700,000 students in 1,300 schools and across 19 states. 

Twelve elementary schools benefitting from project:
Ball Elementary School
Barkley-Ruiz Elementary School
Douglass Elementary School
Forbes Elementary School
Green Elementary School
Herff Elementary School
Hillcrest Elementary School
Kelly Elementary School
Margil Elementary School
Maverick Elementary School
Miller Elementary School 
Pershing Elementary School

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