Students' Ideas Prompt New Green Program in Cedar Rapids Schools

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – As the new school year kicks off, the Cedar Rapids Community School District is rolling out a new program.

It's called "The Green Team," and it aims to promote sustainable ideas within the schools. In a district video about the new plan, the district said it sends about 3,460 tons of waste to the landfill each year. That's a cost of $154,000. The district also knows, like many public schools, it wastes some energy. For Cedar Rapids schools, that adds up to a cost of $525,000.

District leaders said they're already thinking green, but it's only a fraction of the potential work they could be doing. That's why this new program is important.

Across schools and at the administration building, teams of people are starting to gather to figure out new ways to be environmentally friendly.

A new YouTube video makes it pretty clear some kids in Cedar Rapids are ready to go green with several saying "I'm ready."

Until this school year, however, district leaders said they couldn't keep up with the student's new ideas. From posters to presentations at board meetings, Buildings and Grounds Manager Rob Kleinsmith said kids were asking to go green.

"Last year we received a lot of ideas form kids in which the district really wasn't in the position at that time to make these idea go to work for them," Kleinsmith said.

Now, this new green team initiative will make it possible for the students' ideas to play out in their schools. Each building will have their own green team made up of students, staff and community members.

"Whether it's recycling or saving energy, they have a ton of ideas that some of them will work and some of them won't work. But without trying them, you know, we've got to give them the tools so that they can go out and try those ideas," Kleinsmith said.

Taylor Elementary School students who appeared in the district's green team video said they're all about saving energy and recycling.

"If you don't recycle the world would be covered in trash and garbage," said 5th Grader Xander Scaglione.

"You can reuse it and you can make new stuff with it, and you can be green for that," said 5th Grader Christina Curd.

"The students, themselves, can learn about environmental practices and then go around their building and kind of spot things that maybe could be improved and then be leaders and advocates for change," said Taylor Elementary School Principal Brian Christoffersen.

District leaders say after schools organize their green teams and get some new ideas, they'll start pilot projects. A district team will oversee the project. The goal is that the energy or environmental pilot projects that work well will be implemented across the district.

The district said these new, green ideas will likely save them money over the years. They also don't expect this project will cost the district anything.
facebook twitter email alerts you tube hooplanow