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February 3, 2011

 

Audit: Homer schools save on e-mail, composting

Homer

Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Homer Intermediate School fourth-grader Nick Kolut, right, disposes of his recyclables after lunch in June at the school under the watchful eyes of recycling ambassadors Justin Dewinne, Kaelyn Burda, and Kareem Mehdi.

By MATTHEW NOJIRI
Staff Reporter
mnojiri@cortlandstandard.news.net

HOMER — The Homer Central School District saved about $47,000 by finding a free e-mail system and found more savings through a cafeteria waste recycling program, according to a state audit released Wednesday that praised the district’s efforts.
Homer Superintendent of Schools Nancy Ruscio said the savings reflect a districtwide effort to look for ways to cut costs.
“The district has a history of being creative and finding efficiencies in our systems,” Ruscio said. “It’s great that they were recognized for that in the audit.”
The district is saving money on software licensing, storage and hardware costs that would have come with purchasing a new e-mail system.
Emily DeSantis, spokeswoman for the state Comptroller’s Office, said audits released Wednesday focused on cost-saving initiatives and “best practices that other districts can emulate.”
The audits evaluated school districts from July 1, 2009, to July 6, 2010.
The audit also applauded the school system for implementing a compost program at Homer Intermediate School in fall 2009 and at Homer Junior High School in spring 2010.
Before the compost program, the two schools were sending 321 pounds of waste per day to the landfill or about 27 tons per school year.
The two schools have reduced the amount of cafeteria waste to approximately 76 pounds per day or 6 tons per school year.
The 21-ton reduction means that more than four metric tons of carbon equivalent will not be released into the atmosphere, the audit said.
For every ton of solid waste sent to a landfill there is approximately 0.2 metric tons of carbon equivalent of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere, according to the audit.
At the intermediate school, faculty and staff worked with students to develop the composting program after learning about a similar program at Dryden Elementary School.
Students throw out their garbage in cans for each type of waste — liquids, food, paper and plasticware. A student ambassador helps students properly separate the waste into categories.
After the garbage is separated, the liquids are poured down the drain, foodstuffs are sent to a local farm for composting and all other waste is taken to the landfill or recycled.
The science club oversees the compost at Homer Junior High School.
The program is worthwhile because it produces less waste for landfills and teaches students about the importance of protecting the environment, Ruscio said, adding that since that audit similar programs have been introduced at the district’s other schools.
According to the audit, the district is saving about $1,500 annually through the reduction in tipping fees and the purchase of garbage bags.

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