A. Healthy Schools /Environmental Hazards
It is well documented that children are most susceptible to environmental hazards in their environment. Under current policy, our children are potentially exposed in school to environmental hazards such as pesticides, commercial cleaning products, lead, mold, poor indoor air quality (especially in portable classrooms), and industrial emissions at and around school. As more is learned about the effect on student health of these hazards, school systems nationwide are seeking alternatives to pesticides, herbicides and toxic cleaning materials whenever possible and seeking to use the least-toxic alternatives when constructing new schools.
1. Do you support the creation of an interdepartmental task force to review and revise maintenance practices and materials policies to improve the health and safety of our students?
YES with qualifications
Environmental Hazards Comments:
In general I would agree with the idea of assessing maintenance practices and materials policies to improve the health and safety of Loudoun’s students. However, I am uncertain as to whether an “interdepartmental task force” is the optimum way to proceed. The “task force” needed may go beyond school departments to include regional and state officials.
Research shows that efforts to improve school health and nutrition have significant impact on
school performance. Childhood obesity and other chronic diseases are at epidemic levels;
research shows that this is very closely linked to poor nutritional intake in children. Loudoun
County, with our good soil and rural farms has the unique opportunity to initiate reforms to
improve the health of our children through food policies and education. Please rank the following
initiatives according to your priorities (#1 through 8):
_5__ Restrict sale of candy, soda, sweets at/through the school
_1__ Adopt a “Healthy snacks” and “Healthy Parties” policy
_2__ Upgrade the nutritional quality of food offered in school lunches
_8__ Initiate partnerships between local farms and school food-service
_7__ Incorporate in-school kitchen gardens and local food economy education
_4__ Provide meal preparation and food selection workshops
_6__ Teach the significance of packaging and processed foods to ecological and personal health
_3__ Reinforce learned concepts by extending education to parents
2. As a school board member, will you show your commitment to student health by initiating an
initial review and follow-up trial programs to improve food service offerings (lunches, vending
machines, extra-curricular fund-raising food sales) YES NO
YES for programs initiated by school staff/students, but NO to programs initiated by groups outside the school system.
3. The first step in changing practices is educating. Will you support the creation and adoption
of food selection curriculum for students and parents guided by sustainability and personal health
concepts? YES NO
Environmental Hazards Comments:
“Green building” is a loosely defined collection of land-use, building design, and construction
strategies that reduce the environmental impacts that buildings have on their surroundings.
Conventionally constructed buildings consume more of our resources than necessary, generate
large amounts of waste, and expose inhabitants to environmental hazards through their materials
and design. In addition to consideration of materials and architecture, building location &
transportation are considered in designing a green building
Loudoun County Schools is poised to follow the lead of Arlington, Fairfax and Montgomery
Counties in adopting school construction & maintenance standards and policies that improve
school performance, save money in life-cycle costs, and provide a model for other Loudoun
industries to follow.
4. Would you support changes to the school building standards to accommodate sustainable
features that would provide a healthier environment for our children, use resources sustainably
and generate life cycle cost savings for the taxpayers? YES NO
Green Schools Comments:
This is worth looking into. It could create a “Win – Win” scenario for the school system. Healthier, safer and environmentally friendly schools – with a large savings in maintenance costs over time could be an idea whose time has come for Loudoun.
We recognize that the changes we have proposed will require time to plan and execute. We
intend to support school board members who provide the guidance and vision to promote the
necessary policies and initiatives with wisdom and determination.
LCPS currently maintains an Energy Education Program whose mission has been "to reduce the
use of energy throughout the school system". LCPS could expand the mission and personnel of
this office to develop resources that will embed sustainable development principles in school
buildings, the curriculum and the community.
A school-wide Sustainable Schools initiative would encompass evaluation of current practices
and recommendations with respect to global warming emissions, waste streams, and natural
resource depletion in the facilities construction, maintenance and operation systems. It would
emphasize problem solving and respect for the interdependent web of life, and foster commitment
to sustainable development within the curriculum. School staff could make use of the resources
that already exist for these types of evaluations and programs.
5) Would you support the creation of a school system-wide Sustainable Schools initiative?
6) Initiatives that support sustainability have positive effects beyond their environmental focus:
cost savings, improved school performance, student and staff health, etc. However, there may also be obstacles to pursuing sustainable strategies in our school system. What impediments do you foresee and how would you deal with them?
Sustainable Schools Initiative Comments:
Probably the most difficult impediment would be costs. Start up costs such as feasibility studies; building designs and initial equipment investment would likely add a substantial dollar amount to the school budget. Bond issues may spread the costs over a number of years. Another obstacle might be convincing those who oppose an imitative like this. Testimonials from other school systems and neutral experts could be helpful in changing their minds.