Public Sector


Franklin McKinley School District

Franklin McKinley School District

The Opportunity

A thriving district in San Jose, Franklin McKinley SD is committed to helping their students prepare for college and careers by sparking a love of learning that motivates and inspires achievement. As a diverse, expansive K-8 district with over 20 unique elementary and middle schools including sites featuring STEM academies and charter facilities, Franklin McKinley faculty and staff are dedicated to helping deliver resources that help students perform their best across the district. Like many districts in budget-constrained times, Franklin McKinley was seeking ways to leverage existing resources to continue to upgrade and renovate the learning environment without having to sacrifice much-needed curricular initiatives. With a vision for ensuring that an infrastructure sustainability plan would provide opportunities for student and teacher learning, Franklin McKinley pursued implementation of a comprehensive solar program with relevant curriculum tie-ins.

The Partnership

In early 2012, Franklin McKinley started partnering with OpTerra to transform the district’s energy performance through a unique combination of solar and energy efficiency projects across schools, in addition to addressing STEM education goals and needs. It was essential to Franklin McKinley leadership that students, staff, and the community benefit from all large-scale construction improvements as well. Excited by the unique opportunity to enrich the training and roll-out plan for two new STEM academies as part of a comprehensive energy program, Franklin McKinley was excited to seek a partnership with OpTerra that would address energy improvement needs while creating local jobs and redirecting savings to support mission-critical goals around STEM learning exposure.

Focus on STEM Activities

Franklin McKinley’s dynamic solar program and energy improvements were a perfect platform for expanding student and community understanding of the real-world applications of STEM subjects. The Franklin McKinley and OpTerra partnership has enriched many aspects of Franklin McKinley’s overall focus on improving STEM learning opportunities as part of their long-term academic plan. Some of the activities OpTerra’s Education Team has helped develop with Franklin McKinley leadership include:

  • Hands-on Learning: OpTerra developed a Summer of STEM learning series during the summer of 2013 before the kickoff of one of Franklin McKinley’s first STEM academies. Professional development activities for teachers focused on solar, wind, hydro, and other energy sources, with curriculum and in-class guidance for implementation in the classroom.
  • Organization of a District-Wide Career Day
  • Partnership with the San Jose Tech Museum: Working with the Kennedy STEM School and the district STEM Steering Committee, 10 OpTerra energy professionals mentored Franklin McKinley student teams to participate in the regional Tech Challenge.

The Impact

Through the implementation of cost-saving sustainability programs like new solar shade covers at targeted sites across the district, Franklin McKinley has been able to showcase their commitment to environmental stewardship that results in positive learning opportunities for students. The district will be able to invest the projected savings into ongoing STEM curricula and hands-on modules capable of nurturing the next generation of scientists and engineers. In addition to the success and positive community support for the ongoing development of the district’s new STEM academies, OpTerra has helped lead hands-on STEM and energy education activities for students across the district to ensure that the large-scale technical work will continue to enhance Franklin McKinley’s focus on excellence across the district.

The Technical Scope

  • Energy efficiency facility upgrades across district
  • Solar array implementation
  • Living Labs development: Comprised of cutting-edge technologies — from high-efficiency lighting to solar thermal and electric-vehicle charging stations — Living Labs provide an information bridge linking students to today’s energy technologies and energy management systems.