Flagstaff Unified School District approves climate action report | Education

At its most recent meeting, the Flagstaff Unified School District (FUSD) governing board approved a climate action report that will be used to guide the district’s climate goals and response going forward.

The board had previously passed a resolution with priorities in expanding its climate response in August of 2019. In November 2021, it formed a committee to prepare climate recommendations and goals in response to a presentation from Flagstaff sustainability director Nicole Antonopoulos on ways FUSD could contribute to the climate goals in the city’s carbon neutrality plan.

The committee included staff, students, parents and other community members and met monthly from January to June of this year, culminating in the climate action report.

It is meant to help FUSD become an active partner in Flagstaff’s response to the climate emergency, including its goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2030.

The report “came out of recognizing that the activities and everyday life of a large school district in our town has impacts on resources and everything surrounding our city’s efforts to reduce carbon,” said board member Anne Dunno, who was on the committee and presented the reportTuesday.

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She added that the idea was for the district to look systemically at ways it could lessen its climate impact through initiatives and education in addition to operational elements.

In the report, FUSD’s overall climate action goals include identifying and monitoring a greenhouse gas reduction target by December 2022, developing energy efficiency standards for new projects, preparing schools, systems and resources to be “more resilient to climate change impacts” and encouraging student engagement in both climate education and action.

The recommendations focus on three categories — labeled reduce, learn and engage — and each list several ideas for strategies the district can use to pursue its goals.

Reduction strategies focus on energy efficiency, transportation, water and waste, through actions like promoting carpools for pickup and dropoff, pursuing renewable energy sources, looking at composting options and donating leftover food.

Learning recommendations cover curriculum and behavioral change. Recommended actions include creating a resource hub for teachers, expanding programs such as after-school and summer enrichment activities, developing school-based climate plans and encouraging those who use FUSD facilities in stewardship of water and energy.

The district’s plan for engagement is to expand partnerships with places such as the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Office, Terra BIRDS and the County Extension Office. Expanded initiatives also fall under this goal. For example, green school yards at each site, environmental education programs and opportunities at Camp Colton.

A sustainability intern for the City of Flagstaff has been working to measure and analyze the district’s existing data in order to better determine what the targets should be and the best ways to work toward them, said Superintendent Michael Penca.

The information will likely be presented to the board in the coming months.

The motion, which passed unanimously, also included the creation of an administrative committee that will meet quarterly to guide both short- and long-term climate goals and measure the district’s progress.

“I see this as really exemplifying a collective impact model,” said Carol Haden, the FUSD board president. “When you’re talking about a city trying to reach targets and then you have these big organizations within the city, they all have to do their part and contribute to have any chance of meeting those citywide goals. I see this as a really good effort in that direction.”

The full report is available here.

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