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Saving on Energy, Funding and Resources

Approximately 100 school districts and BOCES in western New York will benefit from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's Local Government Efficiency grant. This week the state announced that $4 million in grants will help twenty-one municipalities find new ways to reduce local government costs and save taxpayer dollars through consolidation and reorganization. With help from four Boards of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES), $570,547 of those funds will assist schools in the region.

The Local Government Efficiency grants are part of the Governor's agenda to right size government and address the cost-drivers that for years have made New York’s property tax rates among the highest in the nation.

"In today's economic climate, government must learn to be more efficient and find innovative ways to reduce costs to taxpayers," Governor Cuomo said. "Our state cannot afford to place additional burdens on small businesses and working families, and these grants are designed to help local governments reorganize and cut costs, so taxpayers can be protected and municipalities can better serve their residents."

The grants will help cover costs associated with local government efficiency projects, such as planning for and implementation of a consolidation, shared or cooperative services, and regionalized delivery of services.

For 100 school districts and BOCES across western New York, an epicenter of technology resides in the WNYRIC. The WNYRIC, which stands for Western New York Regional Information Center, is housed at Erie 1 BOCES and provides a regional approach to shared technology resources for schools. Now the WNYRIC is helping school districts contain millions of dollars in energy usage by utilizing software to centrally manage the energy use of their computers from one data center. This same software will also be used to protect against security risks and minimize manual intervention of computer maintenance.

Donald Ogilvie, district superintendent and chief executive officer of Erie 1 BOCES, said, “By reducing energy and staff costs by an estimated $5 million, our efficiency efforts will allow school districts to allocate funds back into the classroom. This project is a large-scale collaboration of four BOCES: Cattaraugus Allegany; Erie 2 Chautauqua Cattaraugus; Orleans Niagara; and Erie 1. The project will achieve considerable cost savings for nearly 100 school districts across the western New York region.”

"We are a true partner with the schools, cutting operating costs is one way to help them redirect funding back into the classroom," said Jill Holbrook, associate director for infrastructure at the WNYRIC. "We'll use robust software on a centralized server to manage the power settings on the 113,000 machines. We'll also push the agent out to the machines via our network so that a technician doesn't have to physically visit each workstation."

To ensure the school districts were fully aware and on board, the WNYRIC worked with Erie 1 BOCES labor relations services to draft an energy management resolution that was adopted by participating boards of education representing school districts and BOCES to ensure this initiative is provided at no cost for the districts over the next three years. In addition, Erie 1 BOCES policy services developed a sample policy for energy management to assist school districts with their compliance of recent suggestions made by the New York State Comptroller's office.

"Computers account for the largest portion of energy consumption related to technology in school districts. We are very thankful for the assistance of the Local Government Efficiency grant and the support from local legislators to help make these efficiencies possible," said Holbrook.

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