Local Schools Lower Thermostats, Students Layer Up

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Bet you'd never thought you'd find more than 1,100 Hurricane Katrina victims at Menomonie High School.

Think about it: before the disaster, district leaders in Menomonie thought they'd see a 6% rise in energy costs. What they got was slightly more expensive electricity, but natural gas and other fuel increases topping 30%.

"This is all at a time when budgets are set and approved at our annual meeting, and we're moving forward into their budget year," said Superintendent Jesse Harness.

Instead of dipping into savings, school leaders dropped the temperature.
68 during the day, 62 at night.

"Every degree it's lowered, you can save about 2-percent on energy costs," Harness said.

"I never wear short sleeves to school anymore, it's way too cold," said Student Council Vice President Hannah Lammer. She should have been the bearer of the bad news after finding all this out from the school board.

"The students noticed before we were able to tell them."

10 of the 14 kids in Hannah's AP English class say the school is just too cold, but if it's any consolation, everyone's suffering together. A week before their thermostats were turned down to 68 degrees, the folks at Central Office turned theirs down.

"We did wanna model that," said Harness.

"I guess if they can stand it, we can too," Hannah admitted.

It's easier because of a relaxed dress code students and faculty now agree on. Light jackets and hoodies seem to do the trick.

"You have to sacrifice some things to benefit in other areas."

A lesson just about any hurricane victim ends up learning, even those who study nearly a thousand miles away from the Gulf Coast.