Oakland is nationally recognized for its sustainability initiatives. President London has twice presented to the Council of Great Cities Schools on Oakland’s sustainability and green building programs, as well as to the California School Boards Association and other groups.
Green Building Program
Prior to joining the School Board, in 2006 Jody co-chaired the campaign for a $435 million capital bond, Measure B. Funds from Measure B have allowed Oakland Unified to rebuild campuses across the City. In 2012, the District will adopt a new Facilities Master Plan. Jody is proud that the District actively solicited community input to the new Facilities Master Plan, to help think about how schools can better serve Oakland children and families. The Plan was unanimously adopted by the School Board May 23.
Oakland is one of only 45 school districts in California, out of more than 1000, that uses the green building metrics established by the Collaborative for High Performing Schools. Oakland is the first school district in the state to receive matching grants from the State for constructing green schools.
Green Gloves Custodial Program
Working with StopWaste, the Alameda County Waste Management Authority, Oakland Unified employs sustainable custodial practices. Over the past few years, the district has steadily switched to greener cleaning products. Oakland has an aggressive composting and recycling program that saves us money on garbage utilities. The OUSD’s Green Gloves program was recognized in December 2011 by the California School Boards Association as a State leader.
Re-inventing School Food
Oakland Unified serves over 7 million meals annually — breakfast, lunch, snacks, and supper — at 101 neighborhood schools, three charter schools, and more than 20 public preschools. More than 70% of Oakland Unified’s 38,000 students qualify for free and reduced lunch. The district has conducted a feasibility study that provides direction how it can dramatically improve the quality of school meals and recognize the importance of good food to good learning. You can learn more about this plan at Rethinking School Lunch.
Oakland Unified sponsors farmer’s markets that operate at 22 schools every week, bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to communities that often do not have access. The District sponsors salad bars at 67 schools, offers a Harvest of the Month education program at 27 schools, and a fresh fruit and vegetable program at 22 schools.
Jody is proud that in November 2011, she led the School Board in stopping the use of styrofoam in Oakland Unified’s school food program.
Building Expertise Beyond Oakland
In 2010, President London helped Alameda County Superintendent Sheila Jordan obtain a $1 million grant from PG&E to establish an energy management program for the 17 school districts in Alameda County. Particularly during this time of fiscal distress, managing energy usage and cost is a good way for school districts to redirect resources to classrooms. Under the Leadership in Energy Efficiency Program, the County Office of Education is helping districts audit their facilities and take steps to reduce energy and water usage. The program is a pilot, with the idea that a successful model in Alameda County could be replicated in other counties. Energy management is a specialized expertise, and most school districts cannot afford to have an energy manager on site. Pooling resources, and using a trusted central entity such as the County Office or Education, allows districts to tap in to this resource.