Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Emerging Leader

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Emerging Leader

Article excerpt

Lower energy costs, healthier students and teachers. Those are two big points in favor of a green school for Shelley Redinger, superintendent of the Oregon Trail School District in Sandy, Oregon, where a new green high school is being built.

Green doesn't refer to the color of the bricks and mortar, but rather to the building's environmentally friendly features: incorporating natural light and different types of roofing products, installing automatic faucets and lights, and much more. According to the study, Greening America's Schools, by Gregory Kats (Capital E, 2006), green schools use about 30% less energy and water than their conventional counterparts.

"That's money that goes back [into the district] and we can hire more teachers," said Redinger, a member of PDK's 2007-08 Class of Emerging Leaders. She said that the building will also be a teaching tool for students.

"It gets them thinking about how things don't have to be on all the time," she said.

The new building will have more efficient air flow, which is important because diseases such as the H1N1 flu are becoming more prevalent. Other buildings in the district are also receiving green updates, including new roofs and more efficient heating systems. Whenever possible, the district hires local businesses to do the work.

"They don't have to travel as far and it puts money back into the local economy," Redinger said.

Other projects under way in her district include outreach to families of diverse students by staff fluent in Spanish, an effort to get diverse and at-risk students involved in sports and activities, and a grant proposal to start an elementary charter school offering the International Baccalaureate program. The school, which would focus on cultural awareness and multiple languages, would open in 2011, and the program would eventually expand to the middle school and high school levels. …

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