The California School Boards Association has awarded the Oak Park Unified School District the prestigious Golden Bell Award for their programs in Environmental Education, Awareness, and Accountability. Congratulations!!!

The Oak Park Unified School District believes it is important that they serve as community leaders in the area of environmental awareness and sensitivity. In addition to incorporating environmental education into their instructional program, they are working to serve as an example for their students and community. The School Board has adopted principles and practices to accomplish this goal.

Some of the sustainable, renewable, energy and resource efficient programs that OPUSD has incorporated into its facilities and/or maintenance to ensure a safe and healthy environment for students and staff while focusing on using sustainable, non-toxic and environmentally friendly products include: using only organic fertilizers on their landscape and turf throughout the district; adopting an Integrated Pest Management system and using only eco-safe pest reduction products; using cleaning supplies made from all natural eco-safe substances; and, purchasing paper that has a high recycled content. In addition, their Child Nutrition (Food Services) program uses a ‘no additive’ policy and they do not serve beef or other red meat. All serving trays are also made from corn and are recycled.

Other significant environmental improvements that have been made to the district’s schools’ campuses and that will have long-term positive benefits are: the installation of a bioswale system in the their new parking lots that absorb rainwater run-off into an infiltration system so that water and pollutants do not run into the local creek and the water is absorbed into the water table instead; the installation of solar panels at Oak Hills Elementary School to offset the power used by the greenhouse and garden located there; and, the utilization of ‘cool roof’ designs that reflect sunlight and provide substantial insulation on school buildings.

OPUSD has an Environmental Education and Awareness Committee (EEAC), which has been responsible for the incorporation of a number of environmental initiatives on the school campuses as well as implementing community events that serve to enhance environmental education, awareness, and accountability. There are many ways that the parents help them in these efforts, such as providing children with a zero-waste lunch, purchasing reusable water bottles, sending in supplies that are made from recycled materials, turning off their engines while waiting in the drop-off lines, walking their children to school, and reinforcing the need to recycle at home and save energy.

Way to go Oak Park!