The Chapel Hill – Carrboro City School System has been nominated for a national award for the “green” programs they have implemented.
Two school districts in the state have been nominated for the Green Ribbon; the other being Cherokee County Schools.
Dan Schnitzer is the Sustainability Coordinator for Chapel Hill – Carrboro Schools, and he says this is a relatively new program, being introduced in 2011.
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“The U.S. Department of Education, a few years back, started Green Ribbon Schools program,” he says. “The Green Ribbon Schools program is specifically for schools working in the fields of sustainability and environmental education.”
Schnitzer says he believes the school system can serve as a model as more schools begin embracing ways to save energy and money. He adds one way the system has shown its commitment to environmentally-friendly programs is that his job exists in the first place.
Schnitzer says he is excited about the new projects being implemented, including composting leftover food.
“One of our big successes this year was we rolled out cafeteria composting in all of our elementary and middle schools,” he says. “It’s 14 schools. Every day we’ve got about 8,000 students who are composting their lunch. And the kitchen staff is composting their food scraps from back of the house.”
He adds, through December, those schools have composted about 113,000 pounds of food, keeping it out of landfills.
Schnitzer says this not only an environmentally-friendly solution, but it also affords an opportunity to teach the students in a real-world situation. He says one of the best parts of his job is working directly with the students so that the message gets passed along and doesn’t stop with measures taken to save the district money. Although, Schnitzer adds saving money on these areas allows more of those funds to be allocated back to the classrooms.
Schnitzer says momentum is building for more positions like his to be incorporated in school systems around the state.
“Granville County has a Recycling Coordinator. Durham [Public Schools] has recently hired a Sustainability Coordinator,” he says. “So, it’s growing. And, I think, part of that is because of the leadership of districts, like Chapel Hill – Carrboro, that take the risk on it.”
He adds that it is now just a waiting game to find out if the school system will be awarded the Green Ribbon.
“With Green Ribbon, the application has been sent on to the Department of Education,” he says. “We will hear back in April. They make a live announcement as to what schools and districts nationwide are awarded.”
If CHCCS receives the Green Ribbon, they will be invited to Washington D.C. for a July ceremony.