How can we support healthier students and  a more sustainable, equitable community? SSCAN urges family, friends and neighbors to support the proposed Seattle Public Schools resolution to transition to 100% clean, renewable energy.

Recently, the Sierra Club’s Climate Parents group organized a parents, educators, students, and two Seattle Public School board members to create a 100% Clean, Renewable Energy Resolution for Seattle Public Schools. Similar resolutions have passed in cities and small districts in California, Minnesota, Utah, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. While SPS has had several green commitments and plans over the years, this one puts teeth for action, a timeline, and oversight. The resolution will be introduced to the school board on January 27th and is scheduled for a vote on February 10. Here is the resolution:

Seattle School District No. 1

Board Resolution

 

Resolution No. 2019/20-

 

A RESOLUTION of Transitioning Seattle Public Schools to 100% Clean, Renewable Energy Resulting in Healthier Students and More Sustainable, Equitable Communities.

 

WHEREAS, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC Report) of 2018, the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), climate scientists from around the world, the State of Washington, and the City of Seattle have all declared that the climate crisis requires a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels by 2030, and full decarbonization by 2050, in order to mitigate the most catastrophic consequences of climate change; and

 

WHEREAS, the City of Seattle’s climate goals require an intermediate target of reducing total core greenhouse gas emissions 58% below 2008 levels by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050, which Seattle is currently not on track to meet, while Washington State’s clean energy and climate goals require reducing greenhouse gas emissions 45% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 95% below 1990 levels by 2050 and net zero by 2050; and

 

WHEREAS, impacts of climate change will continue to be felt in Washington State in the form of increased temperature extremes, record droughts, ocean acidification, and more volatile wildfire seasons, leading to health impacts from heat, smoke, and these impacts will accelerate and intensify the longer we add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere; and

 

WHEREAS, the use of fossil fuels to power buildings and transportation continues to contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and also contributes to indoor and outdoor air pollution, such that the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency estimates that 1,100 Washingtonians die each year from outdoor air pollution; and

 

WHEREAS, the impacts of air pollution are disproportionately experienced by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, such that the 2013 Duwamish Valley Cumulative Health Impacts Analysis (CHIA) also found that residents of South Park and Georgetown have an expected lifespan that is eight years shorter than the average Seattle resident and 13 years shorter than the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city and that 58 percent of the population living within one mile of the Lower Duwamish Superfund boundary are people of color; and

WHEREAS, school districts, cities, and states around the country are making commitments to run on 100 percent clean, renewable energy to improve public health and to help address climate change; and to capture key co-benefits such as improved indoor and outdoor air quality; and

 

WHEREAS, K-12 schools in the United States have an important role to play in reducing carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions from buildings, given that they are major energy consumers; and

 

WHEREAS, reductions in emissions from toxic energy sources that cause climate change contribute to cardiovascular, respiratory, neurological, and other illnesses and health impacts, result in tangible improvements in student health and performance, particularly among our youngest and most vulnerable children; and

 

WHEREAS, students riding in diesel school buses breathe in four times as much diesel exhaust as passengers in a car driving in front of the bus, which leads to an exposure 23-46 times the cancer risk level considered significant under federal law,  and that learning outcomes are improved in school districts with reduced diesel exhaust exposure;  and

 

WHEREAS, the risks of COVID-19 mortality are increased by exposure to air pollution, including exposure to particulate matter and to nitrogen oxide that is found in vehicle exhaust and natural gas combustion; and

WHEREAS, investments in energy efficiency and HVAC systems resulting in better indoor air quality and lighting in schools have been documented to improve both academic performance and student health, which is particularly important in the COVID-19 era; and

 

WHEREAS, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), energy-related expenses are only second to personnel as the largest expenditure in school district budgets, and savings from utility conservation efforts can be redirected into classrooms and student learning; and

 

WHEREAS, energy improvements can make schools and communities more resilient in the face of climate and natural disasters; by serving as emergency hubs that ensure that community members have access to heat, light, and clean air when grid power fails or outdoor air quality is unsafe; and

 

WHEREAS, Seattle Public Schools’ 104 school sites and other facilities contribute to climate change from their transportation-related activities and on-site energy needs, which include space heating and cooling, water heating, ventilation, cooking, equipment; and

 

WHEREAS, the electricity currently powering Seattle Public Schools is from Seattle City Light and comes from at least 91% renewable sources, with the remaining 9% of its production managed by a carbon offset program, making it essential for the District to focus on getting fully off of fossil fuels by electrifying buildings and transport; and

 

WHEREAS, the District has already taken actions to address the climate emergency through sustainability and resource conservation efforts as governed by policy (Policy 6810), procedure (SP6810), and resolutions (No. 2006/2007-18, and No. 2012/13-12), which includes commitments to long range reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, management of our natural resources and energy conservation efforts, and sustainability standards and goals; and

 

WHEREAS, the District is dedicated to supporting programs and strategies which aim to make schools more climate-aware, climate resilient, and safe, and that school buildings and facilities can serve as energy-efficient living laboratories that teach children to understand STEM concepts through clean, renewable energy applications; and

 

WHEREAS, the District is committed to principles of racial, economic and environmental justice, and transitioning to 100 percent clean, renewable energy can help advance these goals by (a) helping to address climate and air pollution, which disproportionately impact low-income communities and communities of color, and (b) creating STEM and vocational learning opportunities geared toward training and preparing students, especially in underserved, frontline communities, for the impending green jobs economy.

 

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Directors of Seattle School District No. 1, King County, Seattle, Washington hereby commits to the goal of transitioning the District off of fossil fuels for all of its operations, including heating, cooking, and transportation, no later than 2040, and sooner if the board deems it possible.

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board directs the Superintendent to assemble and oversee a task force no later than March 31st, 2021 that will develop an implementation plan and accountability process to meet the goals of this resolution, which shall be presented to the board no later than September 30, 2022. One year prior to this date, the task force shall present the board and the public with a preliminary scope of implementation for feedback and refinement, and provide quarterly updates to the board until the final implementation plan is presented for approval. The task force shall be in place until the resolution is fully implemented; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the task force shall include district resource conservation, budget, facilities, transportation, custodial, and equity professionals; student, teacher, and parent representatives; community stakeholders, clean energy experts, labor partners, and others deemed helpful to realizing the long-term goals of the resolution, including members of the BEX and BTA oversight committees and other committees involved with forward-looking master planning for the District. The task force shall meet at least four times per year and present updates to the board in public meetings at least two times per academic year over the life of the resolution; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the plan shall consider finance options, including third party finance, aimed at minimizing costs and maximizing long-term benefits to the District; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the plan shall also include measures that advance racial, environmental and economic justice by prioritizing infrastructure investments for the highest-needs students and schools, and by supporting strong labor and community workforce agreements that create employment opportunities in frontline and underserved communities; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the plan shall explore ways to make school sites, neighborhoods and communities more resilient by considering solar plus battery storage options, which can keep schools running during power outages and also make schools into community hubs, especially in areas that don’t already have emergency shelters; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the proposal shall include recommendations for integrating climate science and climate justice into curriculum, incorporating resource conservation in school facilities into place and project-based learning, professional development opportunities for teachers, and student learning opportunities in STEM that leverage Career and Technical Education (CTE) career pathways; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the plan shall explore ways each Seattle school can participate meaningfully in the process by developing yearly Continuous School Improvement Plan (CSIP) goals related to resource conservation targets; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the task force may also explore additional aspects of environmental sustainability, including carbon-intensive food and materials consumption, and waste, embodied carbon in buildings and renovations, and water use; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the school superintendent shall direct the facilities staff to provide updated benchmarking of progress in implementing the resolution every three years to the school board and general public, including an emissions inventory, and an assessment of whether the 2040 timeline for ending fossil fuel use can be achieved faster; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that any fossil fuel equipment that needs replacement beginning [date 2 months from resolution signed] shall be replaced with equipment powered by clean electricity, recommendations for which may be further informed by the task force implementation plan; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that any new buildings constructed by the District beginning [date 2 months from resolution signed] shall prohibit fossil fuel infrastructure and prioritize zero carbon energy sources; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that any new vehicles purchased by the District beginning [date 2 months from resolution passed] will prioritize zero-emission vehicles, equipment, and fuels wherever: (a) suitable equipment exists for the duty, (b) Life Cycle Cost Analysis shows the premium at less than 10%, and (c) suitable EV-charging infrastructure to recharge equipment is in place, or anticipated to be, preferably at the equipment’s assigned stationary location, and vehicles with the lowest-possible emissions if these conditions are not met; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Seattle Public Schools will leverage buying power when negotiating and renegotiating contracts with all vendors to ensure they employ clean energy; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Seattle Public Schools should support a statewide legislative agenda that improves the District’s ability to advance decarbonization through increased electrification of energy use, including authority to facilitate Seattle City Light’s ability to work on building decarbonization and electrification; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board calls on city, state, and federal officials and agencies to work alongside the District in taking swift, effective action on the climate emergency to protect current and future students, their families, and the communities in which they live.

 

ADOPTED this ______ day of __________, 2020

 

___________________________________  _________________________________

Zachary DeWolf, President    Chandra N. Hampson, Vice President

 

___________________________________  __________________________________

Leslie Harris, Member-at-Large        Brandon K. Hersey

 

___________________________________  __________________________________

Eden Mack      Liza Rankin

 

___________________________________  ATTEST:  _________________________

Lisa Rivera-Smith      Denise Juneau, Superintendent

Secretary, Board of Directors

Seattle School District No. 1

King County, WA