By Judy Reed
Cedar Springs Public Schools received the Kent County Board of Commissioner’s Chairman Award at the 4th annual Green Schools Awards Ceremony on April 19, 2011, at the Caledonia Fine Arts Center. The award recognizes district-level energy projects, and this is the third time Cedar Springs has received the award.
The ceremony, hosted by Kent County and the Kent Intermediate School district, honored individual schools and five districts with 82 awards. Green certificates were given to individual schools for their green efforts, including Cedar Trails Elementary, Beach Elementary, Red Hawk Elementary, and Cedar Springs Middle School.
“Districts are working hard to save energy and taxpayer dollars and have long taught environmental awareness in their classrooms. This new program helps us recognize their efforts,” said Kent ISD Superintendent Kevin A. Konarska.
Some of the environmental activities Kent ISD schools are doing to earn their certificates include holding a recycled fashion show for the community and tending a school garden that grows vegetables for the school’s lunch room.
The Cedar Springs district-wide energy program began in 2004 and has saved the district $1.25 million, or 26 percent in projected energy costs. For the 2009-2010 school year, it saved $240,000, or 33 percent.
According teacher and energy manager John Willette, the environmental impact of the program is carbon reduction of more than 7900 metric tons of carbon dioxide; carbon dioxide reduction is equal to approximately 10 years of growth of over 200,000 tree seedlings, or removing 1,400 cars from the road.
Willette says that 100 percent of the money saved able to be used for the important work of educating students. “In this challenging fiscal environment these efforts have saved jobs and programs while helping to keep class sizes smaller.”
Cedar Springs was one of only five districts to receive the Chairman Award. The others were Caledonia, Lowell, Rockford, and Thornapple Kellog.