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Bergen, Passaic Schools Seek Sustainability Certification

Mayor Bill Laforet, Karin LaGreca and Rich Wolf posed with Sustainable Jersey for Schools as the certification was presented.
Mayor Bill Laforet, Karin LaGreca and Rich Wolf posed with Sustainable Jersey for Schools as the certification was presented. Photo Credit: Rich Wolf

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. -- Sustainable Jersey announced this week that 400 schools have registered for the Sustainable Jersey for Schools certification program.

At the school district level, 155 districts have also passed a resolution to participate in the program. " Sustainable Jersey for Schools is a certification program for New Jersey public schools that want to go green, conserve resources and take steps to create a brighter future, one school at a time," according to a news release.

"I'm impressed with the New Jersey school boards, principals, staff, teachers, students and parents who have stepped up to make their schools more sustainable," Donna Drewes said. She co-directs Sustainable Jersey with Randall Solomon.

"In the first year of the program, Sustainable Jersey for Schools certified 59 schools. In 2016, we have already received 93 certification applications from schools in the first of three submission cycles for 2016. The program is really resonating with the schools."

Participating schools can choose from 87 actions, like performing energy audits, integrating sustainability into student learning and boosting recycling efforts, to earn points for certification.

"Our sustainable practices not only save money for our taxpayers but they educate our students to be good stewards of the environment and conserve valuable resources," said Superintendent Dr. Scott McCartney, of the Egg Harbor Township School District. "We are very appreciative of the recognition and for the work Sustainable Jersey is doing across New Jersey with schools and communities."

To support the efforts of these pioneering schools, the organization provides grants and technical support. To date, it's committed over a half-million dollars in small grants for school and school district projects.

Examples of funded projects include incorporating energy literacy into K-12 curricula, creating a winter greenhouse space which will be an outdoor classroom and creating a No-Foam Cafeteria Zone project.

Bergen County schools include Brookside Elementary School, Ramapo Ridge Middle School and Rutherford High School, among many others. A few of the Passaic County schools include Albert P. Terhune Elementary School, Woodrow Wilson Middle School, Paterson Charter School for Science & Technology and Wayne Hills High School.

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