Letter sent to the School Committee on March 30, 2020, for the Public Hearing for the School Budget.
Dear School Committee Members, Superintendent Fleishman, Mayor Fuller,
We are pleased to know that the Superintendent’s Proposed Budget for the Fiscal Year 2021 includes “funding for a Director of Planning and Sustainability who will both support our building projects and work in collaboration with the city and other partners to improve sustainable practices in the areas of transportation, energy, recycling, and food services.”
In 2018, we wrote this Committee to ask for a Sustainability Coordinator for the district, because “NPS needs a person dedicated to district-wide sustainability efforts so that waste, recycling and energy issues in schools are more coordinated and sustained.” (More here.)
We applaud the district’s commitment to sustainability and your decision to focus on sustainable infrastructure and on the impact of Newton’s buildings on the environment and on the climate. We hope that the new Director of Planning and Sustainability will be able to address operational issues, especially regarding waste management, and work collaboratively with the School Sustainability Working Group (SSWG), as well as with Green Teams at schools. We are excited about the opportunities offered by this new position, and believe that we can help support the new director, as we have worked closely with Liam Hurley, Stephen Marshall, Waneta Trabert, Ann Berwick, and others from NPS, School Committee and the City.
Furthermore, as we have seen great energy in Green Newton’s School Connections initiative (schools.greennewton.org), we hope that you’ll remember what you’ve heard from the NPS students, parents and educators that have spoken to you about the urgency of environmental literacy, particularly in regards to climate change. (Examples here and here).
As the city implements its Climate Action Plan (CAP) and the school district works to improve school facilities, we urge the School Committee to consider the benefits of teaching our community why and how to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet the city’s goal of a carbon-neutral Newton by 2050. With the CAP, the City seeks to “equip our residents and businesses with the tools and support needed to make climate-conscious choices that reduce the community’s GHG emissions while also leading by example.” This engagement and education of Newton’s citizens will be even more effective if the schools offered tools to all of our teachers and students.
Please support the goals of Newton’s CAP and the needs of the next generation by offering instructional opportunities for students and staff aiming to infuse more environmental education into existing curricula. Towards that end, Green Newton’s School Connections group has been collecting data from teachers about their current curricula and their expectations regarding climate education, and we will be happy to share our findings after a few more teachers have responded.
Thanks again for committing to a Sustainability Coordinator and for your dedication to this critical issue. Please contact us with further questions at [email protected].