The Santa Barbara Unified School Board of Education plans to create a sustainability position to coordinate environmental efforts district wide.
The exact role still needs to be defined, but a majority of the board said the position is long past due.
“Environmentalism is part of who Santa Barbara is,” said board member Laura Capps, who helped push for the position. “It’s part of our DNA.”
The vote was 3-2, with Capps and board members Kate Ford and Jacqueline Reid in support.
Board president Wendy Sims-Moten voted in opposition because she disagreed with the timing and expressed concerns about whether to move forward during the summer, a time she said was busy for the district. Board member Rose Muños also voted no, but did not speak or explain her oppostion.
“This position would be a win-win-win,” Capps said. “A win for the environment, a win for our kids at our schools who get to see these improvements happen on our campus, and ehanced environmentalism, and it would clearly be a win for the cost-savings of this district.”
She noted that Santa Maria High School installed solar panels on four sites and saved $150,000 annually, with projections of saving $7 million over 25 years. Oxnard High, Capps said, is also saving just under $500,000 a year from solar and other energy changes.
Santa Barbara Unified School District staff will now come up with a position that it thinks will be most impactful to save money and enhance the environment.
Jennifer Smith, a parent of a Roosevelt School first-grader, is a member of a Green Committee, which includes about a dozen parents, in support of the sustainability position and enhancing evironmental efforts.
“We wholeheartedly support the creation of the new staff position,” she said.
Smith said that the position is “a way to teach our children that ecological sustainability is important and worth supporting.”
Jose Caballero, an environmental science teacher at Santa Barbara High School, said he supports the position.
“A coordinator for sustainability could help connect resources from our community to instruction of our students, in coordination with our school sites and facility staff and the school district,” he said.
“Santa Barbara has a central and critical place in environmental history.”