Flossmoor School District 161

Flossmoor School District 161 is a pre-K-8 school district located in Illinois. Fran LaBella, the Associate Superintendent for Business Services, oversees all aspects of the district’s business operations, including maintenance, transportation, food service, and technology. In this case study, we will explore how the district improved its natural gas and electric risk management program by taking advantage of market opportunities.

With over 27 years of experience in education and degrees in accounting and finance, Fran is passionate about supporting students in achieving their full potential. However, funding is one of the biggest challenges that she faces. It is essential to ensure that the district can provide students with quality educational environments and programs while staying within budget. Fran’s role is to support all the operations and maintenance aspects of the district so that educators can focus on teaching in the classroom.


One of the challenges that the district faced was the cost of natural gas and electric bills. When Fran arrived, she noticed that the district was using a long-term fixed contract for natural gas. The district was paying more than what the market was indicating at the time. Fran understood the importance of having a fixed contract but believed that not being able to take advantage of the declining market was a waste of resources. She started working with Michael Holmes from Vanguard Energy Services to develop a strategy that could take advantage of market opportunities.


  • Mitigate and manage risks by taking advantage of market opportunities: Fran and Michael developed a strategy that allowed the district to take advantage of spot market prices and storage. This strategy gave the district more control over its natural gas costs, which was crucial during winter when natural gas prices tend to go up. The district put a certain amount into a fixed contract, but most of its natural gas purchasing was done on the spot market. This allowed the district to benefit from lower prices in the market and avoid paying excessively high prices.The new natural gas risk management program has been successful for Flossmoor School District 161. Vanguard Energy Services helped the district develop a strategy that takes care of spot market prices while still having a safety net with some fixed pricing. This strategy has enabled the school district to have a much more attractive price on natural gas overall and at a lower rate. The district has also had more stable pricing, even during critical days.
  • Expertise and customization: Vanguard Energy Services has expertise in energy management and has helped Flossmoor School District 161 navigate the complex natural gas and electric markets. Vanguard has also helped Fran develop a strategy that meets her school district’s needs and goals.
  • Reliable support and regular communication: Michael is in constant communication with Fran, providing regular updates and alerts of any potential buying opportunities and issues that could affect their energy strategy and budget. This has taken a lot of worry off Fran’s plate and enables her to focus on other aspects of the district’s operations.


Flossmoor School District 161’s natural gas and electric risk management program has been improved by taking advantage of market opportunities. Fran’s willingness to explore alternative strategies has resulted in a more stable and cost-effective natural gas and electric purchasing system. This case study highlights the importance of being open to alternative strategies and finding a reliable energy partner who has the expertise, understands your business, and shares your dedication to achieving your mission and goals. Vanguard Energy Services offers diversified programs and tailors products and solutions to meet the unique situations and needs of their customers.

In Fran’s words, “Don’t be afraid to listen to something that’s different than what you’ve done before… Always doing what we’ve done is not necessarily the right thing to do. So be open-minded.”

Working with Vanguard Energy Services and Michael Holmes, I always felt like a priority. They have a deep understanding of the energy market and my business.”

Fran LaBella,

Associate Superintendent, Flossmoor District 161

Why Choose Vanguard

Through unparalleled attention to detail, cost effective solutions, and customer service, Vanguard Energy is committed to setting a standard of excellence to which others aspire.

Learn More