Solar Panels Proposed for Albemarle County Schools

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Press conference at Henley Middle School Press conference at Henley Middle School

More than 500 schools in 43 states have installed solar energy panels on their campuses, now the Albemarle County school system is hoping to join that number. A press conference was held at Henley Middle School Monday morning to discuss how solar power installations on Albemarle County schools can save money.

Solar panels and wind turbines are not features you expect to see on a public school campus, but more and more are popping up, allowing students to travel beyond the classroom and experience solar science first hand.

"It’s one thing to read about solar energy in a textbook and it’s another thing to actually see it working and that makes it much more real and relevant to students,” said Steve Koleszar, Albemarle County School Board member.

The Solar Schools Initiative, a student-led campaign, is spearheading the project to help improve public health, something parents want to see more of.

“As we reduce pollution from coal-fired power plants, from fracking, from natural gas, from the use of nuclear power that will be reducing health risks to our children worldwide," said John Cruickshank, a parent, former Henley Middle School teacher and the chair of the Piedmont Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Students working with 350 Central Virginia and the Piedmont Chapter of the Sierra Club are running an online petition advocating for action on climate change. So far, the petition has 700 signatures, but students say their goal is to get 1,000.

"We're hoping that Albemarle County Public Schools can be a case study for everyone to look at to see this is how they got solar, this is how it worked, and this is how we can do it,” said Amory Fischer, Albemarle County High School graduate.

Several funding options are being considered by Albemarle County schools. The earliest solar panels could be up in 2015.

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