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Too cold! Broward County Schools should ask parents and students ways to save money

It has been put forth here before as it is again, as the Broward County School Board continues to struggle to manage its budget, ask the parents and the students for ways to save money! Today, like almost every day last year, students come home complaining of classrooms that are Arctic cold. At a time when money is in short supply and the district is looking for ways to cut its budget, something as obvious as this is a huge missed opportunity. No child should be wearing a jacket in school especially during this time of year.

Ask the parents at each school their child goes to and the district would probably come up with many ways to save money: opportunities and solutions that might be unique to that school. As parents we listen to our children noting their comments and visit just infrequently enough to notice things that the staff at the school might miss.

Another recent example of a missed opportunity is the distribution of class schedules. At the local high school my sons attend, there was two days with scheduled hours to pick-up the schedule. Because of their grade levels they were held on two consecutive days. Would it not have made more sense to allow the students to download and print their schedule from Pinnacle? This would have allowed only those students who needed to actually visit the school such as freshman or those needing ID’s to attend saving time, money and confusion.

Last year the Broward County School Board considered roughly $74 million in recommended budget cuts for the 2010-2011 school. The biggest cut would have come from changing high school schedules so all schools are on a uniform, 7-class day. Making such a move would save $35 million, according to the school district report.

As a parent with a teenager preparing to attend college, reverting to a 7-class day schedule seems an unwise idea. As the rotation occurs now with four classes per semester, students are able to be completely immersed in a subject allowing for the level of concentration and in depth discussion required at a university level. As well, it prepares the high school student for a college based schedule. Students have been found to be more successful academically allowing more learning to be achieved with less emphasis placed on balancing multiple class demands, schedules and deadlines, an important skill that should have been mastered in middle school. If the point is to prepare the students for the next step in their academic life then a four class schedule should be maintained. At least for this year it is.

One of the incumbents running for District 2, Joel Smith advocates for a four day week, extended days and year round school. While he claims he is for the students, it is hard to understand a position that would require a/c in classes during the hottest time of the year as well the lack of opportunity for students to have a summer to explore other learning opportunities not available in a year long learning schedule. All of the schools should be utilizing the website launched last spring illustrating the energy efficient virtues of a school precinct gone green. If that school is found to not be actively looking at its own operations it is wasting the money of every taxpayer.

Ask the parents and the students in your school to provide input for ways to save money. We cannot afford not to. Perhaps a more effective way to see results would be tie an administrator’s salary to the energy efficiency measures in place at the school. Classrooms below 78 degrees should be reported and addressed. Re-examining school bus routes to insure that they take the shortest route or verify that idling on the bus does not exceed ten minutes per the Broward County Idle Reduction ordinance regarding county vehicles. There is no excuse to maintain idling past this time if any of the windows are open or on our cooler days.

Better yet, I call for an Energy Efficiency Task Force made up of students, parents and administrators whose job depends on a better run school in terms of coordination of departments within the school,  communication, streamlined procedures, ordering policies and advocates for better education. We need our leaders for tomorrow, we are teaching them today.

About Valerie J. Amor:
As an architectural consultant, LEED AP, LEED certification reviewer, real estate broker and AIA associate, Valerie J. Amor is dynamically engaged in sustainability and issues regarding the built environment. Actively participating in several local, county and national organizations and committees focused on sustainability issues, she is also owner/principal of Drawing Conclusions and founder/president of Green Collar Connection, companies engaged in sustainable design, real estate development, green job training and research. Knowledgeable and well connected she brings you timely and thoughtful articles. Reach her at .

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Posted by Valerie J. Amor on Aug 26 2010. Filed under Broward County, Emerging Green, Families, Fort Lauderdale, Latest news, Local news, Schools. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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