Irving Elementary School is going solar.

The PTO has been raising funds for several projects at the school and recently received a grant to purchase a single solar panel that will go on the roof. Barbara Hoffman of the Irving PTO talked about the project at the Oct. 25 District 97 Board of Education meeting. The grant, from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, is for $8,000 to install a 16-foot by 3-foot panel. The project has been vetted by the board’s Facilities Advisory Committee.

One recommendation from the committee was a “structural” assessment to be done by a licensed engineer before going forward with the installation. That cost came to just under $2,000, which the PTO would have covered, but the district will cover that cost, said Supt. Albert Roberts, who noted that the panel will be used to teach students about energy conservation.

Hoffman said the panel won’t require any construction changes to Irving’s roof but will rest on brackets attached to the roof. As for ongoing maintenance cost, Hoffman said none will be required beyond a routine check, and that rain will suffice to clean it. The solar panel, she said, will produce enough power to run one classroom. Roberts also noted the cost-savings of having solar panels. He added that other D97 schools are interested in having panels.

One component of the grant involves incorporating solar energy into teachers’ lesson plans, according to Hoffman, who said teachers will be trained on that aspect. She also said the Irving PTO plans to share what they’ve learned about the project with the other D97 schools.

D97 school board members asked several questions about the project and generally supported the idea. The board is scheduled to vote on the project at its Nov. 8 meeting.

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