Board Approves District Sustainability Policy
The Portland Board of Public Education approved a sustainability policy for the Portland Public Schools at its October 2 business meeting.
The policy commits the district to continuing its efforts in areas such as:
- Lowering energy consumption.
- Reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfills and increasing recycling and composting, with a goal of zero waste.
- Encouraging students to carpool, bike, walk and use public transportation to get to school.
- Purchasing fuel efficient school buses.
- Promoting environmentally sustainable cleaning practices.
- Buying products with minimal packaging, products made from recycled materials and products that can be recycled or composted.
- Promoting awareness of environmental sustainability through the Portland Public Schools curriculum and initiatives such as creating school gardens and buying local foods.
“Students, parents and staff all have been involved in the Portland Public Schools’ efforts to lower our carbon footprint,” said Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk. “This policy underscores our commitment to continue and expand those efforts.”
During the past decade, the district has taken many steps to conserve energy and to implement sustainable practices that have resulted in an estimated savings of $1 million per year just in oil and electrical costs.
The district purchased 10 buses that run on compressed natural gas (CNG) and upgraded diesel buses, implemented a no-idling policy in front of schools, introduced single-stream recycling in school buildings and a recycling and composting initiative in school cafeterias. In its first year, the cafeteria initiative diverted 47 tons of food waste from landfills to a Portland composting facility and helped boost the city’s overall recycling rate by three percent.
The sustainability policy was developed after reviewing examples from other school districts throughout the country and gathering input from staff and the community-based Waste Reduction Group. See the policy.