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Lake County Record Bee: Senate Bill 1182 ticks class scores up with clean energy plan


OAKLAND >> Given the extreme weather events of recent decades, schools must prepare future generations for a technological world everyone must navigate while requiring a safe environment to do so.

One concerned parent felt so strongly about the need to change the course of the upheaval of atmospheric conditions, he left his job as a fifth grade teacher to devote full time to steer the evolving graduating classes of youth to thrive in a scholastic environment that raised standards enough to assure success. Johnathan Klein is the parent of two teenage daughters, who were tempered by conditions of the pandemic, yet with efforts of like-minded people, he co-founded Undauntedk12 a nonprofit intended to set climate conditions in the classroom so lessons would not again be disrupted by volatile outside events.

“Our kids spend more time in class than anywhere but schools are not prepared to keep them healthy, safe and learning,” he said. “So, there had to be a way to make sure school building and playgrounds are resilient for extreme heat and wildfire smoke during disaster events. On top of that, our schools were designed for another time and different climate,” he said. “And 40% of our schools are over 50 years old. We have buildings designed without air conditioning. Yet with climate change we now have many more 90 degree and 100 degree days that have an impact on climate.”

But Klein has a powerful ally on his side in the guise of State Senator Lena Gonzalez, (D-33) of Long Beach the author of SB 1182.

On May 21, 2024, Majority Leader Gonzalez’s (D-Long Beach) Senate Bill 1182, the Climate Resilient Schools Act, was approved by the Senate with a vote of 35-0. The Climate Resilient Schools Act aims to safeguard students and communities from the effects of climate change and severe weather by instructing the California Energy Commission to develop a comprehensive master plan to reduce climate risks and promote sustainability in schools.

“Schools are essential community hubs that need to be ready to serve students and families in the face of climate change and severe weather, especially in low-income communities of color,” said Gonzalez via an email. “With SB 1182, The Climate Resilient Schools Act, we can make sure our schools are prepared to meet climate challenges while at the same time capitalizing on upcoming federal funds to create more sustainable schools. I am thankful to my Senate colleagues for supporting the bill today.” Klein pointed out the bill must still move through the Assembly were it first must pass muster in the Education Committee and then the Committee on Utilities and Energy, where if successful, could go to Gov. Newsom’s desk for his signature into law. “This is an unfolding emergency and we need a plan to ensure our school campuses are sites of sustainability, resiliency and health.”

Klein went on, they must identify across the state where are the most vulnerable campuses and students to climate impacts. and then they must collaborate with multiple agencies so, the plan is about explaining what everybody’s role (is) and how they should be resourced to face the climate imperative. And another need is to recommend cost estimates for the future school infrastructure. “The HVAC systems, adequate ventilation,” he said. “But a big part of the plan is how to achieve de-carbonization, which mean clean energy, HVAC systems that don’t run on fossil fuels. And one of the most important things we can do is elect leaders who’d commit priorities to climate action; stop burning fuels and decrease our emissions.”

Alvin Lee is executive director of a nonprofit GENup, California’s largest youth policy organization. “We collaborated with Undauntedk12 on helping pass 1182, he said. “Every year we do a lot of legislative advocacy. From our perspective, environmentalism is one of the most pressing issues of our time. Climate and education are interconnected issues and it is incumbent for us to take up the goal.” He noted, as climate and extreme temperatures become more pervasive, climate induced illness will affect more students. “We want to make sure students have a high quality learning environment not disrupted by climate linked events. California has increasing temperatures and schools with a lot of asphalt make temperature more intense. This bill aims to improve classroom outcomes with clean energy.”

Read this article on the Lake County Record Bee, here