We support funding for a Director of Planning and Sustainability at NPS

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].

School Connections takes letter about hiring a Coordinator of Sustainability to the School Committee

After gathering 139 signatures of support for the letter asking that Newton School Committee Members consider hiring a dedicated Sustainability Coordinator for Newton Public Schools during fiscal year ’20, four GN School Connections representatives, including a student from Newton South, presented the petition to the School Committee on Monday, December 10th (see minutes).

Carolyn Lattin, co-chair of School Connections, introduced the group and highlighted that a Sustainability Coordinator for the schools could help the schools make changes that would save the district money, but, maybe even more importantly, it would also demonstrate to students and city residents that the district is committed to the lessons it teaches students about sustainability and climate change.

Andrew Thompson, Newton South History and Sustainability teacher, made a great case for the importance of sustainability to be an integral part of education and day-to-day life in schools.

Download Letter here.
Download Cover Letter here.

Letter asking to hire a dedicated Sustainability Coordinator for Newton Public Schools

GN School Connections wrote the letter below in October 2018. We gathered 139 signatures of support from concerned Newton citizens.

Download Letter here.

Dear Mayor Fuller, Newton School Committee Members and Superintendent Fleishman,

While we, the people of Newton, prize sustainability as a city, this value is not apparent to our students because environmental practices are not institutionalized in our schools.
We do not “walk the walk” by modeling sustainability for our students and families. To this end, I ask that you consider hiring a dedicated Sustainability Coordinator for Newton Public Schools during fiscal year ‘20.

At present, without such a coordinator, when Newton schools attend to environmental issues, it is usually because a concerned teacher or parent group drives the issue forward. Sadly, when dedicated educators retire or move to new opportunities, their efforts to model sustainable practices conclude. Likewise, when dedicated parents “graduate” with their children, their efforts within our schools also grind to a halt. When interested volunteers again arise, they must restart environmental efforts, often from zero. This constant reinvention of best practices is both frustrating and wasteful.

Hiring a Sustainability Coordinator specific to Newton Public Schools would allow our schools to institutionalize green practices and end our complete dependence on educator and parent volunteers.

If Newton Public Schools effectively model sustainability, it will become second nature to our children. They will take these practices into their adult lives, their homes and their futures.


GN School Connections

Please join our efforts! Send us a message showing your support to [email protected]. If possible, tell us why you think it is important.