SAN JOSE (KCBS) – Money saved by using solar electricity at Piedmont Hills High School has kept 30 teachers there from getting pink slips, school officials said Friday.

The solar panels in the parking lot generate 7.1 megawatts of electricity that have so far cut energy costs for the East Side Union High School District by $3 million, said trustee Frank Beal.

READ MORE: UPDATE: CHP Deactivates Amber Alert After Children Found Safe in Modesto; Missing Woman Still Sought

“This is a very, very important project for our community. It demonstrates that we use their money wisely,” Beal said. “We’ve taken capital money that was available and we’ve essentially converted it into operating funds by investing it in solar energy.”

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

The project, now in its second phase, is on track to become the largest solar installation at any K-12 school in the U.S., Beal said.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Smash-and-Grab Thieves Steal Jewelry at Serramonte Center in Daly City

The state is now looking at how to bring similar solar projects to other California schools and, in some cases, eventually get them off the grid entirely, said Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

“Money that could otherwise be spent on electricity is now being spent in the classroom. And it’s a learning opportunity for students,” he said.

Chevron Energy Solutions put up the panels in a way that would preserve a sense of place, said Lindsey Corbin, the company’s business development manager.

She said schools often choose to install panels along their sports fields because of the secondary benefit, a shaded place to sit.

MORE NEWS: South Bay Congressman Welcomes Afghan Refugees Arriving in Fremont

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)