Many voices unite to create the first school district climate action plan in Maryland

 

Generation 180 has a piece out today on how our coalition of elected officials, students, parents, and advocates came together to work with PGCPS to be a national leader in school climate action.

May 9, 2024 IAC Meeting

 

On May 9, we testified at the Interagency Commission on School Construction (IAC), calling on the IAC to fully implement the requirement found in HB 458 to develop standards for LEAs to use when conducting life-cycle cost analysis for new school construction.  In particular, we called on the new guidelines to include consideration of Maryland’s 2045 net zero climate goal, the cost to retrofit schools for EVs and fossil fuel-free heating, and the need to consider IRA tax credits.

You can watch the testimony here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEMaSfDNtDk

And you can read our written testimony here.

We submitted testimony to the Prince George’s County Council in support of CR-009-2024, a “Resolution Concerning School Pedestrian Safety Workgroup.”  Our children are counting on the County Council to address safe access to schools, and we do believe that this workgroup will lead the Prince George’s County government to prioritize safer access to schools in
its road design and other transportation concerns.

You can read the testimony here.

 

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The Maryland General Assembly is underway and we have been continuing our work providing support for laws that will lead to greenhouse gas free schools. We do this as part of the Maryland Climate Justice Wing. Here is the first set of the testimony that we are submitting in the 2024 legislative session.

  • SB 56/HB 163 – The bill allows for counties to put a surcharge on solid waste some of which could go to school climate grants. Read the testimony.
  • SB 200 “Safe Alternative Routes to Public Schools” – Helps move forward safe routes to school. Read the testimony.
  • HB 356 – Makes some instances of not stopping at a school bus stop a warning instead of a fine. Read the testimony.

If you would like to help us review more bills let please consider volunteering.

It is budget season now and PGCPS is making decisions for what 2025 will look like for our kids’ schools.  We need to make sure they are continuing to be leaders on climate action. Please sign up to speak at the February 15, hearing. We still need folks to talk about funding for climate education, low carbon foods, climate adaptation, and electric buses.  Sign up now and plan to make a difference.
Also if you need a refresher on what the operating budget is, read our November newsletter.
Sign Up to Testify

On January 25 testimony was given on the FY25 Budget Hearing by two Climate Parents volunteers.  Nate from Eleanor Roosevelt High School spoke on the importance of PGCPS providing funding for solar installations on his school and others throughout the county and Joseph spoke on the need for funding for solar, crossing guards, and composting programs, as well as the need to take advantage of all of the federal and state grant programs that are available to schools.  You can check out the video to hear the testimony from us and other concerned residents.

There is also one more PGCPS FY25 Budget Hearing on February 15.  You should register to speak up for funding of school climate action.

Sign Up to Testify
On January 11, 2024, Board Members Kenneth Harris II and Pamela Boozer-Strother introduced the Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP) Ad Hoc Committee to the Board of Education. We are supportive of this!
 
This would create a workgroup to provide review of the implementation of the CCAP. In particular, we think it will inform the community of the great work PGCPS staff is already doing to implement the CCAP and will get outside experts in to provide help with info on new technology and financing options.  Here is our full testimony.
You can watch the introduction here:

 

We testified in favor of two bills at the the December 4 Prince George’s House Delegation Meeting

The first bill was PG 301-24, which would authorize stop sign cameras, which is important for the safety of young students that walk or bike to school.  Read the testimony.

We also spoke in favor 501-24 that would study the feasibility of relocating the Board of Education headquarters.  This would align with one of the commendaitons found in the Climate Change Action Plan. Read the testimony testimony.

 

On October 25, we testified to the Prince George’s County Board of Education Operations, Budget, and Fiscal Affairs
(OBFA) Committee on the need to include important climate action items in the PGCPS FY25 operating budget. Those include:

  • Continue to fund the new sustainability/resiliency officer position.
  • Continue to fund the Student Environmental Alliance Summit.
  • Perform a comprehensive energy audit of all existing buildings.
  • Purchase solar energy through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs).
  • Begin purchasing Electric Vehicles (EVs) and electric grounds maintenance equipment.
  • Fund a baseline assessment for food waste.
  • Provide staff funding for expansion of composting pilot programs to more schools.
  • Provide funding for maintaining natural turf fields.
  • Ensure that purchases related to school food packaging lead to less packaging that is destined to
    the landfill by switching to packaging that is compostable, recyclable, or just reduced in amount.
  • Invest in planting more native trees across the school system.

You can read the full comment letter here.