The following is from The School District of South Orange and Maplewood:
Three schools in the School District of South Orange and Maplewood (SOMSD) have met the rigorous requirements to achieve Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification. These schools join a group of 83 schools that were awarded the Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification in 2016 with only five schools in Essex County that are certified.
The three schools that achieved certification are: Seth Boyden Elementary School with 195 points, Tuscan Elementary School with 175 points and Jefferson Elementary with 160 points. Clinton Elementary School, Marshall Elementary School, South Mountain Elementary School, Maplewood Middle School and South Orange Middle School are also registered and working toward certification with the program.
SOMSD Superintendent Dr. John J. Ramos, Sr. said, “On behalf of the entire school community, we are extremely proud of Seth Boyden, Tuscan and Jefferson elementary schools for achieving Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification. The members of our district-wide green team have been successful in meeting our commitment to being a more sustainable community. I would like to recognize and congratulate the school based green teams made up of parents, teachers, students, administrators and staff for all of their hard work.”
Sustainable Jersey for Schools is voluntary, but achieving certification is not easy. Schools collaborate with their school district to complete actions, upload documentation and achieve certification. “Becoming certified with Sustainable Jersey for Schools is a significant achievement for schools and their school district,” said Donna Drewes, co-director of Sustainable Jersey. “They are leaders in implementing sustainability measures that save money, improve the learning environment, and prepare today’s students to address the challenges of tomorrow.” Each school that is certified at the bronze-level must submit documentation to show it has completed a balanced portfolio of the program’s sustainability actions, achieving a minimum of 150 points.
The SOMSD green team was created in March 2015 and meets monthly during the school year with a mission to coordinate and plan sustainability activities across the school district and to educate students and the community about the benefits of sustainability. All of the schools in the district participated in the district-wide green team and the resulting increase in sustainability programs and projects was evident. Participants trace this success to collaboration. The schools worked together to complete the required sustainability actions and shared resources. Additionally, collaboration with the municipal Maplewood and South Orange Green Teams, which are recognized leaders in New Jersey, played an important role in developing the school district green team.
Certified schools excelled in areas such as improving energy efficiency and health and wellness, integrating sustainability into student learning and reducing waste. Randall Solomon, co-director of the Sustainable Jersey program congratulated the certified schools, “I commend the schools that have achieved certification for their demonstrated commitment toward the long-term goal of a sustainable New Jersey.” The South Orange and Maplewood School District and the certified schools will be honored at a reception during the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) Workshop 2016 Conference on October 25 in Atlantic City.
About Sustainable Jersey for Schools
Sustainable Jersey for Schools is a certification program for public schools in New Jersey. It was launched by Sustainable Jersey, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that provides tools, training and financial incentives to support and reward municipalities and schools as they pursue sustainability programs.
Sustainable Jersey for Schools is underwritten by the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA), the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Clean Energy Program, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA). The 2016 Sustainable Jersey for Schools small grants program is funded by the PSEG Foundation, NJEA, the Gardinier Environmental Fund and the New Jersey Department of Health. Founding Sponsor contributors are South Jersey Gas, New Jersey Natural Gas and NJM Insurance Group. Bayer Foundation is a Silver Sponsor and Jersey Central Power and Light and Spiezle Architectural Group are Bronze Sponsors.
Sustainable Jersey for Schools Program partners include: New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA), New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA), New Jersey Association of School Business Officials (NJASBO), New Jersey Parent Teacher Association (NJPTA), New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA), New Jersey School Buildings and Grounds Association (NJSBGA) and The Sustainability Institute at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ.)