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Press Release - U.S. Department of Education Names Duval County Public Schools a 2017 Green Ribbon School District

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Laureen Ricks
                904.390.2211
 
U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION NAMES DUVAL COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS A 2017 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION GREEN RIBBON SCHOOL DISTRICT SUSTAINABILITY AWARDEE 
HONORING OUTSTANDING EDUCATORS WITH A GREEN CHAMPIONS AWARD
 
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., May 17, 2017 – The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) announced earlier this month that Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) in Jacksonville, Florida is among the 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools District Sustainability Awardees. DCPS was nominated by Commissioner Pam Stewart of the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) on the basis of meeting three pillar accomplishments: reducing environmental impacts, providing an educational culture that makes leading a healthy lifestyle second nature, and implementing environmental and sustainability education by using STEM-based curriculum.
 
“Being conscious of environmental impacts and taking the necessary action to make a difference are the first steps to becoming a green organization. We have demonstrated that commitment by implementing a variety of programs designed to lower energy costs, increase educational opportunities, and encourage sustainable practices,” said Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools. “Recognition on a national scale reaffirms that we are on the right track when it comes to supporting a sustainable environment. Most importantly, educating our youth about being responsible to the environment are life lessons that will extend beyond graduation.”
 
Duval County Public Schools has a variety green programs and initiatives that highlight why it is a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School District. The district has created friendly competition among schools so they strive for continuous conservation behavioral improvement through the Green Champions Network. This competition also occurs between district facility personnel on a building-by-building basis, and produces positive districtwide results.  Based on the USDOE rankings, DCPS is the best of the Big 7 Florida public school districts. Since 2005, DCPS has experienced a 32 percent energy use reduction, an overall utility cost drop from $26 million to $20 million, and a 42 percent recycling rate. Facilities are maintained in a healthy manner by paying close attention to indoor air quality, utilizing green materials when applicable, and monitoring and maintaining utility systems that support the district’s green initiatives. 
 
From energy efficiency to instruction, students and teachers have far greater opportunities to make positive long term impacts to the environment. DCPS provides teachers annual professional development courses in environmental sciences, and students have more opportunities to participate in a variety of environmentally-focused field trips. The district’s STEAM Cultural Passport program, in partnership with St. Johns River Keeper, allows fifth grade students to engage in science-based, hands-on learning experiences that help develop a better understanding of local ecosystems.  Other programs include student visits to the University of North Florida Eco Adventure and Tree Hill Nature Center. Second grade students visit the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens to study interaction between people, nature, and man-made worlds.
 
 “In addition to helping our students become environmental stewards, we will continue to make sure our facilities implement conservation practices to lower energy use, work with our vendors to provide efficient vehicle fleet and busing solutions, and continue to partner with local organizations and businesses to ‘greenscape’ our schools,” added Susan Carew, E.I., LEED AP, Director, Facility Engineering & Energy.
 
Across the country, 45 schools, nine districts, and nine postsecondary institutions are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education. The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 28 states and the Department of Defense Department of Education Activity. The selectees include 39 public schools, including five magnet schools and one charter school, as well as six nonpublic schools. Forty-four percent of the 2017 honorees serve a disadvantaged student body and 14 percent are rural. The postsecondary honorees include three career and technical and community colleges.
 
A report that highlights the 63 honorees (selected schools, districts, colleges, and universities) can be found at https://www2.ed.gov/programs/green-ribbon-schools/awards.html. More information on the federal recognition award can be found https://www2.ed.gov/programs/green-ribbon-schools/index.html. 
 
About Duval County Public Schools
Duval County Public Schools is the 20th largest school district in the nation, educating more than 128,000 students in over 190 schools. Its mission is to provide educational excellence for every school, in every classroom, for every student, every day. Visit www.duvalschools.org to learn more.
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