Wednesday, February 21 , 2018, 1:48 am | Overcast 48º


Montecito Union School District Receives Green Achiever Award from State

From left, Dr. Nick Bruski, principal of Montecito Union School; Heidi Winston, former Montecito Union School parent and vice president of green; Jesse Landeros, facilities manager; Tammy Murphy, superintendent; Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction; and Vanessa Scarlett, science teacher. Click to view larger
From left, Dr. Nick Bruski, principal of Montecito Union School; Heidi Winston, former Montecito Union School parent and vice president of green; Jesse Landeros, facilities manager; Tammy Murphy, superintendent; Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction; and Vanessa Scarlett, science teacher.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has nominated three California school districts — including the Montecito Union School District in Santa Barbara County — and two individual schools to compete in the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition program, which honors schools that conserve resources while promoting health and environmental literacy.

“These schools and districts serve as role models for their students in two important ways,” said Torlakson, who started his public service career as a high school science teacher and coach. “First, they manage their own facilities wisely by saving energy, conserving water and reducing their impact on the environment. Next, they provide innovative education programs that teach students about nature, the importance of clean air and water, and how to make good choices to preserve the environment for future generations.”

Torlakson said this is especially important now that the environment is facing so many threats, such as climate change.

“These schools follow and advance a proud California tradition of caring for the environment and preserving our state’s stunning, natural resources that are celebrated and known throughout the world,” he said.

The nominees are:

» Montecito Union School District, Santa Barbara County

» Culver City Unified School District, Los Angeles County

» Redondo Beach Unified School District, Los Angeles County

» Yosemite High School, Merced, Merced County

» The Thacher School (private), Ojai, Ventura County

MUSD’s school greening efforts have been guided by a comprehensive Sustainability Plan since 2011, creating a focused roadmap framed by the Three Pillars of Green Ribbon Schools. Efforts include programs to improve composting and recycling efforts at lunchtime, invigorate the environmental education curriculum and build partnerships in the community. Funding from the California Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39) jump-started school investment in a high-efficiency LED lighting retrofit. MUSD earned CA-GRS Bronze Level recognition in 2015 and Gold Level recognition in 2016.

The schools and districts were also named "Green Achievers," the highest honor in the California Green Ribbon Schools recognition program.

“Through their environmental practices, the schools and districts we honor today are teaching students to be responsible stewards of our precious resources,” Torlakson said. “I commend their commitment to instill policies and habits that will continue our forward progress in establishing healthy campuses and communities.”

Green Ribbon Schools demonstrate exemplary achievement in three “pillars.” Pillar I: reduce environmental impact and costs; Pillar II: improve the health and wellness of schools, students and staff; and Pillar III: provide effective environmental education that teaches many disciplines and is especially good at effectively incorporating science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, civic skills, and green career pathways.

The California Green Ribbon Schools recognition award uses the applications submitted for nomination to ED-GRS to recognize schools and school districts for environmental excellence. Private school awards are conferred by the California Association of Private School Organizations.

California is one of 25 states as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity that are expected to nominate schools and districts for federal recognition this year. Continued participation and leadership in the program is a recommendation of Torlakson’s Environmental Literacy Task Force.

The state received 51 schools, including one charter, five magnet and six nonpublic schools; 13 districts; and nine postsecondary institutions as nominees this year, for a total of 73 nominees from 29 nominating authorities (28 states and the Department of Defense Education Activity).

The U.S. Department of Education will confirm state nominees on April 24.

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