Public schools should spend taxpayers’ money as efficiently as possible to educate the children we entrust to them. Every dollar spent otherwise detracts from the overriding responsibility.

Solar panels on the roof of Wheeling Park High School may be a good idea for that very reason, a WPHS student told Ohio County Board of Education members this week.

WPHS freshman Ben Weimer suggested that part of the $76 million repair and improvement campaign for schools should be utillizing solar power at the school.

During a trip with his soccer team to Europe, Weimer noticed Germany and Austria are “very progressive” with solar and wind power technology, he said. “I saw these things established in these houses, and it makes a lot of sense. These people are saving a lot of money every single month and keeping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere,” Weimer explained, adding, “That’s something I would like to see happen here, if possible.”

Well, now. Being progressive is one thing. Spending money effectively sometimes is another.

But Bailey pointed out it is possible solar panels at WPHS could save money on energy expenses. He estimated it would cost $400,000 to $500,000 to install the equipment.

In return, the school could get some low-cost energy as a supplement to other sources. And, during the summer when sunshine should be plentiful but the school would be closed, nearly all the power generated by solar panels could be fed into the electric grid, with the school system benefiting financially.

School officials already are exploring the practicality of geothermal energy. Why not ask engineers and architects about solar panels, too?

Weimer’s idea may not be feasible. If it would result in a net expenditure rather than a gain over conventional sources of electricity, it ought not to be considered. Again, education, not pioneering cleaner sources of energy, is the school district’s chief responsibility.

But if it can be demonstrated solar panels would be cost-effective, why not?





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