JSIS "Green Team" students and principal interviewed on KING-5
SEATTLE - During a time when money is tight in school districts everywhere, the Seattle School District has found a way actually to give money back to its schools to use however they choose. This year, a record 82 schools in the district got back some of the money that they saved through energy conservation.
One of those schools is the John Stanford International Elementary School, where the cafeteria is now becoming another classroom.
"That goes in there, and that one goes in there," explains students wearing green vests and lined up by garbage bins. The students are volunteers on the "Green Team" who are committed to helping the school save energy and cut back on waste.
"I take stuff that's not supposed to go in the recycling bin out of it and crush milk cartons to save space in the recycling bin," explains student Alec Denny.
"I do it at home a lot," adds student Hannah Silver Fajrard. "And we're doing composting and recycling a lot at home.
In addition to helping the environment, the students are also earning cash for their school through the district's Shared Savings Program. It rewards schools that reduce, reuse and recycle by giving them back some of the money the district saves through lower utility bills.
"It's money that would otherwise be going right out to Puget Sound Energy and Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities," says Nicole Laky, the Seattle School District's Resource Conservation Specialist. "And to keep that within the district to further their learning and to put it back into classroom teaching has been really really exciting for us."
Schools can earn back anywhere from $100 to $5,000 a year through the Shared Savings Program.
The students, including Ashia Dilawai, agree. "I think it's really cool how we get money back, but its not all about the money, it's about helping the environment."
This year, the school earned $1,750.
"To get any money back is a thrill for us," says principal Kelly Aramiki. "But to be able to use this money to further the education of kids, to be able to send them on field trips to learn more about environmental education, is a real benefit for the students."