PUSD receives competitive federal grant

Porterville Unified School District office in April 2022 - Photo by Rigo Moran

U.S. Department of Energy awards most sought out school improvement grant of the year to Porterville Unified School District

PORTERVILLE – Porterville Unified School District received funding from the Renew America’s Schools grant, a highly sought after school improvement grant that was only awarded to 23 other districts across the country.

Porterville Unified (PUSD) was the only district in California to receive the grant, which had over 1,000 concept papers, with requests totaling $5.5 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). After receiving feedback, 236 LEAs (Local Education Agencies) submitted full applications, the requests of which totaled 1.62 billion.

As of publication, PUSD has yet to respond to the Sun-Gazette’s inquiries as to how they specifically plan to use the money they’ve been awarded. Their basic proposal is outlined by the DOE.

As noted in the proposal, PUSD will receive $5.8 million of the grants’ $178 million. This funding will go towards school improvements that will lead to lower energy costs, and lower emissions, such as high-efficiency lighting and the electrification of select heating systems.

With the funds, PUSD also commits to training and certifying 24 students, by providing an energy engineering internship/apprenticeship program that will pay the California minimum wage of $15.50.

As reported by KVPR, these changes will only be made at seven of the 22 schools in the district and the amount will be awarded over the course of the next three years. While it wasn’t revealed which schools would be receiving the changes, the eco-updates will greatly help the community as a whole; according to the DOE, Porterville ranks near the top for the worst air quality in the U.S.

Not only will the improvements help Porterville breathe, it will also create a more safe and efficient space for students to learn and grow. As 90% of PUSD students are non-White, and 85% of students are English learners, socially disadvantaged, homeless, or in foster care, these schools provide a safe haven for many of the city’s youth.

The DOE funded grant works in tandem with and supports President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda, a bipartisan plan to help improve America’s infrastructure. The plan includes public schools, as they make up the second largest sector, falling just behind transportation.

“Thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, DOE is demonstrating scalable and replicable clean energy models that will create healthier and safer K-12 schools,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said in an announcement from the DOE.

While these changes won’t be instantaneous, the awarding of the grant is a big step towards a brighter future for the Porterville Unified School District.

Start typing and press Enter to search