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The Greening of Pierson

Posted on 21 January 2010

By Marissa Maier

When thinking of ambassadors of the green movement, athletic directors and buildings and grounds managers often aren’t the first people to come to mind. But Pierson’s Montgomery Granger is turning this notion on its head.

 At a budget workshop held in early January, in which Granger laid out a preliminary budget for the athletics department and facilities upkeep for the 2010-2011 school year, he noted that since he took over operations last year the elementary school now uses only green cleaning products. He added that he employs organic turf maintenance at the Pierson playing fields.

 For the past 15 years, Granger has maintained a compost pile at his home but it wasn’t until 2006 that he jumped on the organic turf bandwagon. That was when he attended a seminar on using organic methods for turf management. 

 ”What you had over the years were fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and with those you poison the soil,” said Granger, who added that in killing the pesky grubs one would also remove the worms and ants that keep the soil healthy. High quality compost is expensive and Granger predicts it will cost the school $9,000 next year. For next year, Granger also plans to put aside $3,000 for organic fertilizer.

 ”People wonder why there is so much breast cancer here. It might have something to do with us being ground zero for the perfect lawn,” theorized Granger of the use of traditional chemicals.

Granger explained the products used at the elementary school are made from natural ingredients and are biodegradable. He said many of them are citrus based. Granger added that green products are often less expensive and estimated the school district would save $7,500 in cleaning supply costs this year.

He noted that at Pierson the custodial crews have already stopped using products with a “danger” label affixed to them and are phasing out the use of ones with “warning” and “caution” signs. He expects the middle and high school will use 100 percent environmentally friendly cleaning materials by the next school year.

As part of his presentation to the board, Granger showed three separate budgets for operation of the facilities, maintenance of the facilities and spending for the athletics department. The operation budget, which includes items such as snow removal, cartage and waste, and gas and electricity, showed a $54,733 decrease with an overall spending of $1,070,493. The maintenance lines totaled around $1.14 million but included in this figure was $215,185 for maintenance and energy saving projects, which were a part of the December facilities bond that failed. In selecting priority projects, Granger said he analyzed which ones had the quickest cost savings for the district. The top, and most expensive projects in this list, are replacing 80 windows at the elementary school at a cost of $1,000 each and retrofitting the lighting at the elementary school and all three gyms for $65,000 with a proposed 18-month payback period.

“We had $6.7 million worth of projects that were defeated. This is the size of our bag to put all of that in. I targeted some of the things we could get the most bang for our buck,” reported Granger to the board. The maintenance budget was around $236,901 higher than the 2009-2010 adopted budget.

Granger’s fiscal plan for athletics department cost around $754,000 with an increase of about $83,000 over last year’s adopted spending.

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