Thank you Principal Pasquale Scuderi for hosting this event and Student Body President Raymok Ketema for your introduction. I would also like to welcome members of my Schools of the Future Team members:
The time to think about schools of the future is now. We can't teach the next generation of California students in facilities that are relics of the past. Investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy will help our schools save money, now and over the long run. Building energy-efficient schools also pays off in the classroom, and sends students a message we're concerned about the environment and their futures.
Every project means hundreds of "teachable moments" for our students. As a science teacher, I see enormous potential for including students taking part in energy audits and studying the design and installation of solar and wind systems.
Schools of the Future Task Force: Make California a Leader
I want to bring creative thinkers together, from schools, from the state, and from business community. I will give them a mission: make California's schools the leaders we should be in efficiency and renewable energy. I am asking them to look at:
- Creating healthier, well-lighted classrooms that promote achievement;
- Building energy efficiency into every project;
- Removing regulatory barriers;
- Identifying potential funding sources; and
- Recommend how the Department of Education can help, by identifying best practices and providing technical assistance.
Some schools are already leading the way. We want others to join in. For example, Berkeley Unified School District took advantage of the state's "high-performance" grants to promote energy efficiency.
I am pleased to award $25 million in federal stimulus tax credits to the district for two projects, the stadium at Berkeley High and for facilities at West Campus. Berkeley is one of 61 districts I am awarding a total of $848 million in credits today. These credits will result in interest savings to each district, allowing them to proceed with construction and modernization projects despite the state's budget problems.
This is part of the budget solution. Energy costs are eating up more and more of our school budget. Reducing those costs will help our schools make their dollars go farther and bring us that much closer to addressing the financial emergency facing schools.
Now, let me introduce the U.S. Representative from California's 9th District, Barbara Lee.