Thomas E. Tom Reed’s answers to Loudoun County Committee for a Sustainable Society (LCCSS)
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 students?
Yes, we already have on-going programs, but additional efforts would be worthwhile and enhance student safety.
Please rank the following initiatives according to your priorities:
My rankings reflect a countywide view of the school systems 72 schools. Most of our schools don’t have ‘local farms’ nor land for in-kitchen gardens. Many of the schools in the Blue Ridge and Catoctin district may have the access to farms. Also, educating parents is a noble and worthwhile idea, but it isn’t part of the Constitutional authority/responsibility of the school board. School Boards are governed by Article 8 of the Commonwealth’s Constitution. You can read article 8 on my website. (www.TomReedAtLarge.org)
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, but in most of the areas discussed, the school board and staff are already do it. The Health, Safety, and Wellness Committee regularly addresses issues related to student health and nutrition. In addition to your list, we also review the breakfast menu.
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 for students, we already include nutrition in health courses and reviewing the curriculum to improve it would be worthwhile. Educating parents isn’t the school boards role or responsibility. Possibly the PTO or PTA could become involved or maybe even a grant from the Loudoun Education Foundation
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 sustainability and generate life cycle cost savings for the taxpayers
Yes, the long-term savings compensates for the additional higher initial construction costs. We attempted to implement ‘green’ features in the design for the new Advanced Technology Academy (ATA); however the Board of Supervisors didn’t include the ATA in the most recent capital budget. We have also put funds into the Request-For-Proposal for new two-story middle school designs to include ‘green’ features.
5. Would you support the creation of a school system-wide Sustainable Schools Initiative?
Yes, but again, organizations are already in-place to evaluate these initiatives. The Health, Safety, & Wellness Committee, or the Finance, Construction, and Site Acquisition Committee would be involved in this process.
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?
The biggest impediment is funding. The school board doesn’t have fiscal autonomy, so any decisions concerning outlays from the capital or operating budgets would require the approval of the Board of Supervisors. Additionally, although the school’s attempt to be good neighbors, sometimes our neighbors might not be accepting of the sustainability initiatives (e.g. solar panels, windmills, or water storage ponds).
If you have any further questions, please contact me at 703-777-1088, or e-mail me at TomReedAtLarge@AOL.com