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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #14-30
March 27, 2014
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces California's First "Green Ribbon" Recognition of Schools and Districts

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today named two schools and two school districts as California's inaugural "Green Ribbon Schools" (CA-GRS). The Superintendent's new initiative complements the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognition program, which California has participated in since its inception.

"We all look forward to the day when every school is a green school," Torlakson said. "California Green Ribbon Schools recognizes and encourages the efforts of schools and districts to make a comprehensive environmental and sustainability education available to all students in healthy and efficient facilities."

Selected schools and districts were designated based on their applications to ED-GRS, which are managed by the California Department of Education and scored by an interagency stakeholder group. Each applicant demonstrated substantial achievement in the three pillars of ED-GRS: Pillar I: Reduce environmental impact and costs; Pillar II: Improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and Pillar III: Provide effective environmental and sustainability literacy, incorporating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education (STEM), civic skills, and green career pathways.

Awardees will be recognized in June at the regional ceremonies for California Distinguished Schools.

The creation of a California Green Ribbon Schools program was contained in Torlakson's Schools of the Future Report (PDF; 1MB), which recommended that the state recognize exemplary environmentally sustainable schools.

Details on the selected schools and districts are below. For more information, please visit the California Department of Education's California Green Ribbon Schools Web page.

Green Achievers

Encinitas Union Elementary School District [] External link opens in new window or tab., San Diego County
A regional model for sustainability and wellness

EUSD serves 5,400 K-6 students in nine elementary schools, all of which have been recognized as California Distinguished Schools. The district is home to one National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Eco-School (bronze level), four NWF Certified Habitats, and two Alliance for a Healthier Generation Schools (bronze level). Two large-scale organic, sustainable farming efforts are blossoming within the district: a 10-acre Agroecology Learning Center (opening this year), and the one-acre Ocean Knoll Educational Farm. Both facilities leverage public and private partnerships and provide food for the Farm to Cafeteria program. The district has reduced lunchtime waste by 85 percent using its award-winning SCRAP carts for recycling and composting.

Lowell Elementary School [] External link opens in new window or tab., Long Beach, Los Angeles County
Growing, conserving, and learning by doing

Every child participates in the Learning Garden, totaling 8,000 instructional hours per year. Student Green Team members divert more than 28,000 gallons of classroom recyclables annually from the trash. Car Free Fridays, promoted and measured by the Student Council, eliminate more than 150 pounds of carbon dioxide per week and encourage exercise. Fifty-five percent of students walk or bike to school, and students take more than 15 walking field trips each year. Lowell received ENERGY STAR certification in 2012 with a score of 98.

Twain Elementary School [] External link opens in new window or tab., Long Beach, Los Angeles County
Robust recycling programs advance sustainability and wellness

Parents and Green Team students volunteer daily to help divert trash, reducing lunchtime waste by 85 percent. The Green Team engages 35 percent of eligible students (grades two-five) as active members, but reaches the entire school community. A monthly "Bottles & Cans Day" earns the school $2,500 annually in recycling income. Twain is an American Heart Association (AHA) Teaching Gardens School. Twain received ENERGY STAR certification in 2011 with a score of 97.

Bronze Level

Santa Cruz City Schools [] External link opens in new window or tab., Santa Cruz County
Environmental stewardship for schools and community

Santa Cruz City Schools serves 7,000 K-12 students on 10 campuses, two of which are certified as green businesses by the Monterey Bay Green Business Program. District-wide, 31 percent of students walk or bike to school. The incentive-based Boltage pilot program tracks student trips and demonstrates miles traveled, calories burned, greenhouse gases reduced, and gasoline unused each day, week, and month. Every school participates in a Farm to School program to use local, fresh food. The high school agricultural program is supported by a two-acre facility including vegetable and flower gardens, a fruit orchard, landscape displays, commercial greenhouses, a retail landscape plant nursery and retail flower shop, a domestic animal grooming shop, and livestock production areas.

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Monday, January 28, 2019
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