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The Alliance for Competitive Energy Services
Optimal Learning Environments
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New Jersey School Boards Association
John P. Henry (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Educational Information and Resource Center
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Educational Information and Resource Center
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3-year N.J. study to link sustainable schools with tax savings and student achievement
TRENTON, October 10, 2011 — Will retrofitting existing school buildings with clean energy technology benefit student achievement? Will it reduce operating costs, decrease tax dependency and provide more funding for the classroom?
These questions will be the focus of the three-year New Jersey Sustainable Schools Project, conducted by the Educational Information and Resource Center (EIRC), a public non-profit service agency, and underwritten by a grant awarded Sept. 23 by the Alliance for Competitive Energy Services (ACES), a statewide energy-buying cooperative for public schools, coordinated by the New Jersey School Boards Association.
“The New Jersey Sustainable Schools Project will assess the financial benefit of converting older schools to green energy, the contribution of a healthier physical environment to student achievement and the opportunities in STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) that a green school can provide students,” explained Marie S. Bilik, NJSBA executive director.
According to Bilik, the potential educational benefits were major factors in the NJSBA Board of Directors’ vote to fund the New Jersey Sustainable Schools Project through money available from its ACES program.
Cost savings for school districts also played a pivotal role. The ACES program has saved New Jersey taxpayers more than $62 million in electricity costs over the past three years. The Sustainable Schools Project grant, which will equal approximately $100,000 a year for three years, will fund a study that is consistent with ACES’ mission to contain energy costs for public school districts and taxpayers, she noted.
“The project will be of significant interest in New Jersey, where the average age of public school buildings exceeds 50 years,” said Bilik. “While green energy has been a component of new schools and the focus of building renovation in some districts, most schools have not been able to pursue the concept.
“For local boards of education, an important project outcome will be guidance in developing policies, pursuing alternative funding and public-private partnerships, and reinvesting savings in the instructional program.”
Charles Ivory, EIRC executive director, noted that the study would break ground by providing a cost-benefit analysis of the installation of green energy technology in existing schools.
“Existing studies demonstrate that newly constructed green schools improve student achievement and lower costs, but there is no research that can be found about the impact of the process of greening an older school building while at the same time greening the curriculum.
“That’s at the heart of the project,” Ivory said.
“With the goal of making the green school a learning laboratory, the project is in direct alignment with U.S. and New Jersey Department of Education initiatives to expand STEM education and make it more relevant to students through real-world learning.”
The three-year project will focus on a group of New Jersey schools that mirrors the state’s geography, demographics, grade levels and programming. Each project school will produce a “green strategic plan,” action steps, lesson plans and resources.
Teams from the project districts will participate in training coordinated by the Educational Leadership Foundation of New Jersey, an NJSBA affiliate, and provided by the Green Schools Leadership Institute. Operated by EIRC, the institute assists educators in efforts to “green” schools and integrate curriculum with state and national education standards, particularly those addressing science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Local school districts can obtain further information about the Sustainable Schools Project by contacting John P. Henry, EIRC Challenge Center and green schools leadership director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Carol James, EIRC project development coordinator, at email@example.com.
The Educational Information and Resource Center is a public agency specializing in education-related programs and services for parents, schools, communities, nonprofit organizations and privately held businesses throughout New Jersey. Its programs also reach into more than 36 states and 8 foreign countries.
Founded by the New Jersey School Boards Association in 2000 as a result of the state energy de-regulation law, the Alliance for Competitive Energy Services provides joint purchasing of electricity and natural gas for the state’s public school districts.
The New Jersey School Boards Association is a federation of 587 local boards of education and includes 62 charter school associate members. NJSBA advocates the interests of school districts, trains local school board members, and provides resources for the advancement of public education.