bellevueLike many school districts around the Northwest, Bellevue is facing another budget shortfall this year. District officials are considering a number of cost-saving measures, including turning down the heat in classrooms during the winter.

If only there were some way to solve this problem…

Some proven method for school districts to invest in the kind of energy efficiency retrofits that would allow them to cut heating bills, even while keeping classrooms warm. Some way to create local jobs installing the energy retrofits, even while guaranteeing that the projects save money for the district. And some way to do the work now, in tough economic times, but lock in the benefits for decades— benefits that range from a smaller carbon footprint, to reduced energy demand, to lower bills for cash-strapped schools.

It’s almost like we need some kind of innovative financing tool that would float bonds to pay for energy retrofits at public schools across Washington. Perhaps it could be coupled with a smart policy that would require audits and “performance contracting” to ensure that the energy costs savings are real. Even better if the savings stayed with the school district so that students in districts like Bellevue wouldn’t have to pay more for school lunches, or face higher fees for extracurricular activities.

Because if we had a policy like that, it would seem like a clear winner.