By Ryan Cornell
Shenandoah County Public Schools are seeing green in both senses of the word.
At the Virginia School Boards Association's annual convention from Nov. 20-22, the school system was awarded silver certification for the association's Green Schools Challenge.
The challenge encourages schools to implement environmental policies and practices that reduce their carbon emissions. Shenandoah County was one of 12 divisions to receive the silver certification out of Virginia's 133 total school divisions.
Dr. Jeremy Raley, superintendent of Shenandoah County Public Schools, said the certification is the result of continued diligence and better awareness among staff of green practices. He said the county's public schools have implemented its initiatives to reduce electric and water consumption since the 2008-2009 school year.
"Some of these divisions we're competing against, they have dedicated energy managers on staff, that's all they do," he said. "As a smaller district, it falls on the shoulders of all of our employees to implement best practices."
These practices include the wind turbine at Central High School that generates enough energy to power a classroom for a year, extensive renovations of school mechanical systems and habits of turning off lights, faucets and computers when they're not in use.
Raley said the division decided to go green to save money and keep more taxpayer dollars in the classroom.
"Resources were dwindling and we knew we could use our dollars in a different way to benefit our education and benefit our students," he said.
The school division has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result. Raley said they've decreased total utility rates by more than $700,000 since 2008.
This is the fifth year the Green School awards have been given out. Frederick County Public Schools was one of 12 divisions to receive a platinum certification at last month's convention.
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org