Here’s a puzzler. Right at the time of day when some kids are most likely to get into trouble, most schools close the door and turn off the lights. Seems silly, doesn’t it? That disconnect, along with a slew of other good reasons, has helped give birth to the community schools movement. It aims to build community (and better leverage the school building) by co-locating many of the services that students need, like health care or social supports, on the school grounds. It also increases parent engagement in the school, as you can bring parents in for the same services. While mom and dad are there, they’re fish in a barrel for the school counselor who has been dying to talk to them about how Johnny could use more help or how Jane is ready for the gifted program. It’s a win-win-win.
Separately, the U.S. Green Building Council has recently built a coalition of several key education groups around the concept of “every student in a green school.” They point out in their Planet Forward video that if we did so, we’d save $20 billion over the next 10 years (if you include universities in there, too). The school in Greensburg, KS that rebuilt LEED Platinum after a 2007 tornado is, by its own account, saving $150,000. For a town of fewer than 1,000 residents, and a county with fewer than 2,500, that’s real money.
You see where I’m going here. Why not double down and make them community schools green? Or, if you like, make every green school a community school?
Not only would you bring in all the services, you’d fully leverage all the green improvements by, potentially, closing an old, inefficient community center and/or health clinic, while keeping the efficient, cost-saving building open longer.