Two years ago, at Workshop 2014, Sustainable Jersey for Schools debuted. The certification program advises schools on ways to become environmentally and financially sustainable, while taking various actions to earn points towards certification. Sustainable Jersey also provides training programs, and access to information about grants to help fund sustainability measures.   

I am proud to say that my district was an early participant, registering shortly after the program was launched. Our board voted unanimously to join Sustainable Jersey for Schools.

Since then, the Manchester Township school  district has undertaken energy savings and conservation steps that not only promote sustainability, but save our district money and, I believe, contribute to the health and well-being of our students and staff.  This past summer, we were pleased to have an “Environmental Defense Fund Fellow” work with us and provide guidance on further energy-saving initiatives, at no cost to the district.

This issue of School Leader has a special section devoted to the important topics of sustainability and wellness. The section includes an article describing how the two topics go hand-in-hand. Schools that become more sustainable often improve conditions like indoor air quality; while school gardens can help students eat more healthy produce. Another article features the Union City school district’s program to provide a healthy breakfast and lunch to all students

This issue also takes a look at some of the health initiatives that are part of the Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification process. Schools can earn points for student and staff wellness measures such as undertaking programs and policies that promote physical activity. In addition, there is a detailed update on the statewide progress of the Sustainable Jersey for Schools program, which has grown beyond all expectation to include more than one-third of all districts in the state, and more than 500 schools.  On Oct. 25 at Workshop, we will honor 83 schools, which represent the second group to attain certification. NJSBA looks forward saluting those accomplishments.

I highly recommend you read this special School Leader section and, if you haven’t registered for Sustainable Jersey for Schools,  please consider doing so. Completing the actions that lead to certification can result in cost savings, a better school environment, and improved health for your students. All of that helps advance student achievement, which should be the top priority for all school board members.