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February 14, 2003

Minimal staffing options OKed for spring break week

by Diana Pounds
To save energy and operation costs over the spring semester break, ISU officials once again will support minimum or no staffing in offices that don't necessarily have to be open. Spring break runs from Saturday, March 15, through Sunday, March 23.

Since December 2001, officials have encouraged low office staffing during the winter and spring breaks to help with tight university budgets. Officials anticipate saving $3,000 to $4,000 in energy savings each weekday of the coming spring break, said utilities director Dave Miller.

Employees certainly are allowed to work over spring break if they choose, said vice president for business and finance Warren Madden. However, he encouraged supervisors to be cooperative in allowing employees to take vacation, leave without pay or compensatory time over spring break.

Some offices may close, others reduce hours
It is permissible to close offices over break, Madden said, particularly small offices in which everyone wishes to take vacation. The office supervisor and dean must agree that the office can be closed or that phone messages can be handled by another office.

"In some offices that cannot be closed for the entire time, officials may wish to consider reducing the number of hours they are open," Madden said.

If a unit closes, the unit head should provide the dean or vice president with information on who to contact in an emergency. Phone forwarding, phone messages, office signs and Web sites can be used to let clients know where to go for emergency assistance.

If a unit or portion of a building can be shut down for part of spring break, supervisors should alert facilities planning and management at Facilities staff will cut back energy use in unoccupied areas. They also will let department of public safety staff know which areas of campus will be largely unoccupied.

Individuals can help save energy over the break by reducing office thermostats from 68 to 60 degrees (if areas will be unoccupied) and shutting off nonessential items (such as computers, monitors, printers, fax machines and copy machines) when they leave for break.

Essential units remain open
Some units can't be closed because they are vital to the university's daily operations, Madden said. These include, for example, units involving security, the power plant, animal care, snow removal and ongoing research projects.

ISU officials hope to gain $1.5 million in energy savings during the current fiscal year. Through the first eight months, savings are $1.08 million -- slightly ahead of the goal.

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