Team: Healthy Youth Development
Mentor: Liz Guillen
Authors: Senators Kevin De Leon and Darrell Steinberg
Did you know that a significant number of schools in California are 50 years old or older and in desperate need of retrofitting? Millions of children attending these schools are trying to learn in buildings that jeopardize their health. These buildings may have poor indoor air quality, no heating, non-functioning ventilation and air conditioning systems, ancient plumbing and creaky windows and doors. Simply put: Our children deserve better than this.
Studies have shown that the quality of the learning environment has a real impact on student achievement. For example, poor indoor environmental factors are known to cause asthma. And asthma is the number one cause of school absenteeism in California, accounting for 1.9 million missed school days each year.
SB 39 (de Leon and Steinberg) gives us an opportunity to address our children’s health needs as well as to improve their academic success. SB 39 would use the funds from the Clean Energy Job Creation Fund to award energy efficiency upgrade projects to economically disadvantaged school communities in need of modernization.
The bill would require the Office of Public School Construction to give higher priority to applications that meet specified criteria. For example, a school that is located in an economically disadvantaged community or in a school district that has an above average unemployment rate would have priority. Ultimately, the goal of the energy efficiency upgrades is to create long-term cost savings for the schools, maximize job creation (SB 39 has the potential to create upwards of 66,000 new jobs in California), direct more money to classroom needs, shrink our carbon footprint and, most important, create healthier environments for our students and staff.