Developing a new awareness

Last week the Dispatch featured a story on the newly formed GUSD
Citizens Environmental Oversight Committee. This committee will
serve in an advisory capacity for Gilroy Unified School District. I
have had my share of problems with GUSD over the years.
Last week the Dispatch featured a story on the newly formed GUSD Citizens Environmental Oversight Committee. This committee will serve in an advisory capacity for Gilroy Unified School District. I have had my share of problems with GUSD over the years. I am also too busy to get myself involved on new committees lightly. But this committee cries out for involvement, so I joined. The members are all people for whom I have a great deal of respect and admiration. They are not joiners, but doers. Over the next few months, we will be looking at ways of improving the way GUSD does business. I envision this committee advising the district on issues regarding school health and school safety, assuring that we maintain clean air and water, raising the level of consciousness on a range of environmental issues which affect our children and making school children aware that our Earth is a precious resource.

Towards that end, I would like to see recycling programs at all of our schools. Recycling entails much more than just separating the garbage that is generated at lunch time. I would like to see increased use of email and voicemail to cut down on the amount of paper generated. I would like to see classes maintain a garden at each school site. I would also like to see children rewarded for using lunchboxes and containers instead of plastic or paper sandwich bags every day. It would be great if every school had a composting program.

From teachers and staff, I would like to see recycle bins in every room or office. I would hope that all schools are recycling their inkjet cartridges and soliciting businesses to donate used cartridges. From parents I would like to see more carpooling. I see a number of SUV’s pull up to schools with one child exiting. I would like to see more children riding the bus. I would like to see the attendance areas more closely reflect the nearest proximity to a given school.

I would like our air quality to be better here in Gilroy. There were a number of “spare the air” days last year when it got hot very early. We have an inordinately large population of children with asthma. We need to work with these students to make sure that their diet, exercise and daily home or school environment is not exacerbating their breathing difficulties.

We need students who are naturalists, students who treat the Earth with reverence. We need clubs at schools that can help our students become more aware of their responsibility as caretakers of our planet.

Towards that end, the Gilroy High School Parent Club held the first in a series of citywide cleanup days last Saturday. Approximately 25 parents, students and community members cleaned up a portion of downtown Gilroy near the railroad tracks between Fourth and Sixth Streets. That small area filled a large dumpster with weeds, broken glass, garbage and all manner of debris which was lining the two block stretch.

South Valley Disposal is partnering with the parent club to help clean up the city. Students at Gilroy High are in desperate need of community service hours, and we offer few options for them.

How did we get this done? All we did was ask. I want to thank City Councilman Charlie Morales for setting up the initial meeting between South Valley Disposal and the parent club. I also want to thank Phil Couchee of South Valley Disposal for not hesitating to help get this program started.

I hope the community will support us in these efforts to make our city a cleaner and healthier place to live.

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