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Ventura County

Colleges Go to 4-Day Week to Save Energy

Education: Only a few Friday classes will need to be rescheduled. Moorpark campus expects to save $86,000.

May 09, 2001|HOLLY J. WOLCOTT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In an attempt to save money and electricity during the ongoing state energy crisis, most employees of the Ventura County Community College District will work four-day weeks this summer.

The decision, approved by the Board of Trustees last week, is the latest step by the district to become more energy efficient, said district spokeswoman Pat Kistler.

"We have a lot we are already doing," Kistler said. "We've been buying energy-saving equipment and have been working with [Southern California] Edison on this for the last five years."

Long before the crisis peaked in March with rolling blackouts across the state, district officials had installed energy-efficient air conditioners at Moorpark College and replaced old computers with power-saving ones at Moorpark and the district's other two colleges, Oxnard and Ventura.

FOR THE RECORD
Los Angeles Times Thursday May 10, 2001 Ventura County Edition Part A Part A Page 2 A2 Desk 2 inches; 36 words Type of Material: Correction
Worker survey--A story Wednesday about the Ventura County Community College District's switch to a four-day workweek this summer contained incorrect information. In a union-sponsored survey, nonteaching staff members voted 101 to 18 in favor of the plan.

Trustees inquired about a shorter workweek in January after seeing news reports about the state's declining energy supply, Kistler said.

The trustees "wanted to know what we were doing to do our part," she said.

Because most summer classes are traditionally conducted Monday through Thursday, the new summer work schedule caused little inconvenience for teachers and to student class schedules, said Eva Conrad, executive vice president of student learning at Moorpark College.

"The staff will have the same number of work hours, we'll save a little electricity, and students will have the same range of courses," Conrad said.

The fewer than 10 classes that were offered on Friday have been rescheduled on other days, he said.

College officials estimate that the shorter workweek could save up to 40%--or $86,000--this summer in electricity costs. Conrad said she thinks a large chunk of that savings could be from the Moorpark campus, where a lack of ocean breezes keeps air conditioners blasting through August.

In a survey by college officials, nonteaching staff members voted 101 to 18 in favor of the plan, Kistler said.

Those who voiced concerns about child care or other conflicts were given several options, including telecommuting, working on Saturdays or using vacation time, Kistler said. The new workweek will affect most of the district's approximately 2,000 workers.

Campus police stations will remain open on Fridays after the plan goes into effect May 21, and events scheduled on Saturdays will also occur, Kistler said.

The college district isn't the only public agency in the county taking measures to save money and energy.

The county Board of Supervisors last week approved a 27-point plan aimed at keeping the County Government Center running during anticipated rolling summer blackouts.

The plan limits personal appliances, such as coffee makers and clocks, and asks employees to turn off machines, such as printers and photocopiers, that aren't essential.

At Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, spokeswoman Lynda Paige Fulford said college officials will buy additional generators to handle blackouts and turn off air conditioners in the dormitories between noon and 6 p.m. during the summer.

Classes for students and several live-in summer camps for children are held at the campus every summer.

Facility employees "decided there are really no campers or students in the dorm rooms at those times, and if there are they obviously can have the windows open," Fulford said.

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