Articles in the Environmental Issues category

Sandy Hook tragedy teaches lessons on school security

Thomas J. Gentzel, the Executive Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), reflected on the first anniversary of the Dec. 14, 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. with this statement:

“The tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary one year ago shook the nation. Our hearts go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones and to all those in Newtown who were affected on that horrific day.

“One year later, the nation continues to memorialize the 26 adults and children who were killed at the school, support their survivors, grieve, and move forward. For school board members, the urgency of making schools around the country safer and more responsive to future threats is an ongoing imperative and legacy of the Newtown shootings.

“As part of their duties, school boards must ensure that school buildings keep children and school personnel safe without becoming fortresses. In cases of natural disasters and man-made situations, school buildings – equipped with high-occupancy gymnasiums and cafeterias – are often the first shelter, serving as community safe havens and command posts. School boards recognize that even the best emergency preparedness policy is perishable, and they are monitoring and improving their districts’ policies on a routine basis.

“School districts can ensure that parents and the community have a clear and actionable understanding of emergency response plans. One example is parental notification – to clear the path for first responders and their emergency vehicles, parents are often directed to a designated area away from the school where they can safely receive real-time updates.

“Since the Sandy Hook tragedy, there has been much debate on whether armed security guards should be used to protect the nation’s schools, or whether teachers or other school staff should be armed. In cases when a community deems school security is essential, NSBA believes that only sheriff’s deputies and police officers should be hired as school resource officers. Trained to deploy their weapons in the safest way possible and to take action that minimizes collateral damage, sheriff’s deputies and police officers have ‘qualified immunity’ that affords school districts the legal protection they need in case of any unintended consequences that could arise in carrying out their duties.

“As we approach this first anniversary, NSBA joins world and national leaders, state and local governments, community leaders, and people across the country in remembering those affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy. Times like these give us great pause because they remind us not only of the fragility of life but also of the bravery and resilience shown by Newtown’s teachers and school administrators, the students and parents, and the first responders on Dec. 14, 2012. Our nation’s 90,000 school board members will honor them as we continue our efforts to educate and protect our school children and school personnel who work in America’s public schools each day.”

 

Joetta Sack-Min|December 11th, 2013|Categories: Bullying, Crisis Management, Environmental Issues, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Policy Formation, School Buildings, School Climate, School Security|Tags: , , , , , |

Education Talk Radio previews NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference

Kanisha Williams-Jones, Director of Leadership & Governance Services at the National School Boards Association (NSBA), was a guest today on Education Talk Radio providing a preview of NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference. Thousands of school board members, administrators, and other educators will be coming to San Diego to take part in the April 13-15 event.

Listen to the broadcast:

Listen to internet radio with EduTalk on Blog Talk Radio

The conference will feature more than 200 sessions on timely education topics, including federal legislation and funding, managing schools with tight budgets, the legal implications of recent court cases, new research and best practices in school governance, and the Common Core State Standards. A series of sessions will focus on school safety and security.

Expanded education technology programming will include site visits to the University of San Diego and Qualcomm’s Mobile Learning Center to explore its research laboratory on mobile learning; Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography to examine the technology in science education and STEM; Encinitas Union School District to view its One-to-One Digital Learning Program; and the San Diego Zoo to learn about the cutting-edge learning tools used to teach at-risk students. U.S. Navy SEALs will show leadership and team building skills during another workshop.

The meeting also includes one of the largest K-12 educational expositions, with some 300 companies showcasing their innovative products and services for school districts.

General Session speakers include Academy Award winning speaker Geena Davis, who will be speaking about her work off-screen as founder of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Davis works with film and television creators to reduce gender stereotyping and increase the number of female characters in media targeted for children 11 and under. She will explain how media plays a key role in children’s development, and how her organization is making a difference.

Television star Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of the world’s most engaging and passionate science advocates, will headline Sunday’s General Session. From PBS to NASA to Presidential Commissions, organizations have depended on Tyson’s down-to-earth approach to astrophysics. He has been a frequent guest on “The Daily Show”, “The Colbert Report”, R”eal Time with Bill Maher”, and “Jeopardy!”. Tyson hopes to reach “all the people who never knew how much they’d love learning about space and science.”

Monday’s General Session features acclaimed researcher and author Diane Ravitch, who has become one of the most passionate voices for public schools. Her most recent book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, makes the case that public education today is in peril and offers a clear prescription for improving public schools.

Learn more about the common core standards, new research on differentiated learning styles, and teaching “unteachable” children at the Focus On lecture series. Learn about new technologies for your classrooms as part of the Technology + Learning programs.

It’s not too late to register, visit the Annual Conference website for  more information.

Is your district prepared for a natural disaster?

Hurricane Isaac left floods and power outages across the Gulf Coast this week, but officials at the National School Boards Association (NSBA) say damage to schools remains minimal.

“We’ve reached out to our colleagues in the states that were affected by Hurricane Isaac,” said NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant. “Although many families and schools have been affected by the torrential rains and wind, at this point there have been no fatalities related to schools.”

Public school buildings are often used as safe havens during storms and other disasters, and schools canceled classes and activities in many parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Alabama this week.

American School Board Journal has a compilation of stories with advice on handling natural disasters in its topical archives.

Joetta Sack-Min|August 31st, 2012|Categories: American School Board Journal, Crisis Management, Environmental Issues|Tags: , , |

Bryant honors new “Green Ribbon” schools at ceremony

National School Boards Association Executive Director Anne L. Bryant helped honor a group of schools with environmentally friendly designs that have integrated student learning into the features of their buildings and environments.

A June 4 ceremony was the inaugural event for the U.S. Department of Education’s new “Green Ribbon” program, designed to recognize schools with facilities that have reduced environmental impact, improved the health of their students, and have coordinated effective environmental education. Some 78 schools received the award, some with newly constructed buildings and others which had undergone “green” renovations.

“Reading through each story of the winning schools I see hope, light, and a focus on real 21st century learning,” Bryant said. “These schools used the physical structures, whether gardens, forests or solar energized school buildings, to teach STEM and analytical thinking, project based learning, problem solving, critical thinking and teamwork. 21st Century learning reinforces communication skills, creativity, and collaboration.”

Bryant pointed to examples of winners, such as Longfellow Elementary School in Long Beach, Calif. The school won a 2011 Energy Star award with a perfect score of 100, partners with a local middle school to share best practices, gives each teacher professional development in environmental sustainability, conducts all physical education classes outside and hosts a “Walk to School Wednesday” to engage not only students but community members.

Bryant was also particularly impressed with Terra Environmental Institute in Miami, a science-focused magnet high school that focuses on engineering, medical, and biological science courses to promote learning and conservation techniques.

For more details about this year’s winning schools and the Education Department’s Green Ribbon program, go to:

http://www2.ed.gov/programs/green-ribbon-schools/highlights-2012.pdf

Joetta Sack-Min|June 11th, 2012|Categories: Environmental Issues, School Buildings|Tags: , |

Turning America’s schools “green”

The U.S. Department of Education announced this week that 33 states and the District of Columbia have submitted intents to nominate schools for the new Green Ribbon Schools awards program launched this past September. Schools nominated by state education agencies are eligible to receive the award.

Participating states, as well as the District of Columbia, to date are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The Department also received intent to nominate from the Department of Interior Bureau of Indian Education school district.

The program asks states to nominate schools in their jurisdiction that come closest to achieving the high bar that Green Ribbon sets: net zero environmental impact of facilities, net positive health impact on students and staff, and 100% environmentally literate graduates.

Participating states are currently posting applications for schools in their jurisdictions, and will submit nominees to the Department by March 22, 2012. The Department will announce winners in April, 2012 and will host the first national U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools ceremony in Washington, D.C., in late May 2012. The national ceremony will be followed by local ceremonies at each of the winning schools in fall 2012.

BoardBuzz likes this and is proud that the National School Boards Association is part of the executive committee of the Coalition for Green Schools. To learn more about greening your school district, check out the resources from the Center for Green Schools.

Alexis Rice|December 8th, 2011|Categories: Environmental Issues, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Buildings|Tags: , , , |

Creating green schools

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently announced a new initiative, The Center for Green Schools, with the goal of ensuring that all students attend a green school within this generation.

“At USGBC, we understand the profound impact green buildings have on our lives and the innovation they have poured into the marketplace, and we believe no other market speaks more powerfully to the benefits and potential of green buildings than our schools,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chair of USGBC. “The Center for Green Schools at USGBC is engaging educators in creating sustainable learning environments for their students and applying solid research to inform leadership – from school boards to college presidents – about the benefits of healthy, high-performing schools.”

BoardBuzz praises this new initiative as green schools can improve the school environment and with their energy efficient designs can save school districts money.

Alexis Rice|October 20th, 2010|Categories: Environmental Issues, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Saving money, saving energy

An article in the Ocala Star-Banner about a Florida school district got BoardBuzz’s attention with the headline “Energy savings net Marion schools $8.7M in four years.”

Turns out an energy management program created four years ago by the Marion County School Board has saved the school district $8.7 million since the program was enacted with energy usage per square foot dropping by more than 21 percent. 

What’s even more impressive is the energy cost went down even though the school district has added 500,000 square feet of buildings since 2005!

So what are they doing? Energy saving tactics include building new energy efficient schools and facilities, going to a four-day work weeks in the summer, summer school consolidation, using automatic heating and air conditioning controls, and working with custodians to shut off lights when they complete cleaning a room.

Alexis Rice|June 7th, 2010|Categories: Educational Finance, Environmental Issues, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Boards|
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