When hundreds of Central Texas schools open their doors to students again today, they will in some ways be operating greener and leaner than ever.
But many districts are finding that they are having to struggle to keep up their facilities given the demands that shrinking budgets are having on building maintenance costs.
Some districts have the money to make investments in such initiatives as replacing aging building systems and using solar power.
In Round Rock, operation costs are going up as the district continues to grow. But unlike in other areas, including several districts served by Austin Energy, the district anticipates utility costs will actually go down after recently receiving a new electricity contract. With an eye toward longer-term savings, the district installed solar panels on the new Elsa England Elementary School, a move district officials estimate will take care of 10 to 15 percent of the building's electrical needs.