District Administration - March 2009 - (Page 16)
Natomas (Calif.) UNified sChool distriCt DistrictProfile Green Schools Grow in Sacramento By Mary Johnson Patt As Mike CAnnon wAlks the halls of the bright, airy schools that have risen in the northwestern corner of sacramento, Calif., he recalls being a student in a more claustrophobic setting. “i went to school in a particularly nice dungeon, built in 1912,” says the assistant superintendent for facilities and planning in the natomas Unified school District. he chuckles at the attitude of his childhood teachers: “windows? You don’t need windows. You would just look out and be distracted!” Just the opposite is true, Cannon insists. “having a great deal of natural daylight in the classrooms is much more advantageous for student learning— whether you have a higher proportion of window to wall, or use skylights and solar tubes.” Abundant use of daylight, which reduces energy consumption and concurrent utility bills, is one of the myriad design concepts that have turned natomas into a national leader in the green schools movement. Sharing Bright Ideas The 12,000-student district won a Green Apple Award last fall for “excellence in reducing local impact on climate change” from the san Francisco-based Collaborative for high Performance schools. ChPs is the nation’s first green building rating program developed for schools and sponsors the annual Greentools for healthy schools Conference, which was held in sacramento last september. Day two of that conference took place at nUsD’s brand new h. Allen hight learning Center, a combination elementary and middle school hailed for its “passive design” energy efficiency. “The walls of h. Allen hight are exceedingly thick, very well insulated, 16 March 2009 Mike Cannon, assistant superintendent of the Natomas Unified School District, surveys the atrium and cafeteria at the hub of Inderkum High School. and the windows are double-paned,” Mike Cannon explains during a private tour of the campus. “we used recycled construction materials and have a heating, ventilation and cooling system that exceeds federal standards for air circulation and quality.” Flooring materials throughout the complex are free of the toxins associated with standard construction. The central administration building, shared by the elementary and middle schools, is also topped by the first “green roof” in the region. its surface, covered with a foot of dirt, was planted with nonflowering strawberry, blue fescue and creeping thyme—plants that can help cool the building on sacramento’s notorious 100degree days, buffer urban noise, and clean the atmosphere. A short drive from h. Allen hight is inderkum high school, a two-story structure that has won awards not only for its “active design” features, such as solar roof panels, but for the passive use of geothermal energy for heating and cooling. Radiator-like water pipes buried deep in the ground keep the four-year-old school’s hVAC units cool. Meanwhile, an ingenious venting system in the central atrium and cafeteria draws fresh, chilled air up through the floor and out a set of open columns. Deep Breaths, Deep Thoughts Districts skeptical of the benefits of investing in improved lighting and air might be swayed by recent research, according to the California state Board of education. studies from Carnegie Mellon University and the U.s. Green Building Council show a 38.5 percent reduction in asthma rates in green buildings, as well as a 33 percent increase in the number of students testing at grade level for reading and math, after they were moved to a green school. what advice does Mike Cannon have for financially strapped school districts that have no hope of building new, hightech schools in the current economy? “You can go through and retrofit,” he says, something nUsD has been doing consistently with its older schools. “You District Administration Natomas (Calif.) Unified School District Superintendent: Steve M. Farrar, since 2004 Number of schools: 16 Number of students: 12,181 Number of teachers: 593 Average number of students per teacher: 20.9 Percentage of students qualifying for free or reduced lunch: 54 Per-pupil expenditure: $7,464 District size: 38.2 square miles Web site: www.natomas.k12.ca.us
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration - March 2009
District Administration - March 2009
Health & Fitness
The College Promise
Do Economic Rewards Work?
The SIFication of America
Disciplining Students with Disabilities
How Well Does This Web Site Work?
District Administration - March 2009