Schools take on 'green' initiatives
By Chris Mazachrism@thereminder.com
LONGMEADOW The Longmeadow Public Schools will now take part in a district-wide initiative to make its operations more "green."
Superintendent Marie Doyle first announced the policy shift, which encompasses everything from administrative duties to vehicles, on Dec. 14 in a letter to the community posted on the district's website.
Doyle explained to Reminder Publications
that the letter was the result of a collaborative effort by the district, the School Committee and members of the community at large.
"We have a Green Committee, which is made up of a School Committee member and citizens," she said. "They drafted this and went before the School Committee, who gave them their input and asked for the district's input."
Doyle added that having environmentally responsible policies in the school department were important because "schools are the primary place to teach children the value of a healthy environment."
She said that she believed that Longmeadow was one of the first Pioneer Valley school districts to create a comprehensive district-wide policy.
"I think Longmeadow is ahead of the curve in taking detailed action in this regard," Doyle said. "There are districts that do partial initiatives, but I think we are one of the first to do something this extensive."
At the administrative level, the district made several pledges regarding purchasing, energy, food service and transportation.
Among those was a declaration that the district would buy locally produced, less toxic and recyclable products whenever possible.
Each school building will also develop waste management plans that emphasize recycling and will conduct yearly energy audits as well as develop a plan for energy conservation.
Addressing food service, Doyle said that every school will provide recycling receptacles and all staff will recycle all plastic, paper, cardboard and metal containers. The schools will also emphasize waste-free lunches and avoid using Styrofoam.
The curriculum will also be expected to include the opportunity for students "to heighten their awareness of environmental issues," according to the letter.
"Wolf Swamp Road School is an excellent example of where this is happening," Doyle said. "Everyday, students go around the school collecting recyclables and making sure that they are disposed of properly. The students are aware and recycle more because of this project."
School buses will not be discouraged to idling outside of the school in an effort to reduce pollution.
Schools are also being asked to utilize less paper in their daily activities and are also being encouraged to formulate their own "green teams" made up of teachers, students and staff.
Doyle said that all staff and school leadership have been updated on the changes and everyone appears to be on the same page.
"The facilities manager has been involved for issues that need his expertise and the administrative team has had a chance to read the letter and have passed on the information to their staffs," Doyle said.
For a complete list of the initiatives being taken by the Longmeadow Public Schools, visit http://sites.longmeadow.k12.ma.us/www/news/greenschools