The Carson City School District Bond Oversight Committee tours the Eagle Valley Middle School construction project in March 2022.
Director of Operations Mark Korinek long has championed the Carson City School District’s efforts to make its facilities and resources sustainable, environmentally friendly and engaging for students and community partners.
Korinek and his team have helped to spearhead initiatives that have included school events to educate families, celebrate milestones or provide energy efficiency certifications or capstones on school buildings or offer trainings to help staff or local stakeholders understand social responsibility. Now his department has submitted language for a proposed policy demonstrating its commitment to conservation practices.
The district’s board of trustees on Tuesday reviewed the first reading of proposed Policy 830, established to demonstrate CCSD’s commitment to practices and principles pertaining to conservation and sustainability.
In accordance with the strategic plan’s original creation in 2012, Korinek had been assigned to form a Sustainability Action Team inviting district teachers and staff members to provide their input. The district, one of 16 nationally to receive up to $10 million across the span of four years from the competitive U.S. Department of Education Race to the Top grant announced in 2012, could move forward aggressively on installing solar panels at Carson Middle and Eagle Valley middle schools and make capital upgrades to help other campuses reach their goals, Korinek said.
One project that eventually became a reality was the construction of a greenhouse at Eagle Valley.
“It was a dream come true,” Korinek said.
Trustee Stacie Wilke-McCulloch thanked Korinek for his dedication and keeping CCSD’s priorities for sustainable development at the forefront but asked about carrying on what he and his team have accomplished to date.
“I worry we don’t have it in our strategic plan to continue,” she said.
Korinek said there are about 90 staff and community members on an e-mail list to update and felt the committee’s mission was built to support the strategic plan.
Trustee Mike Walker said the team’s work motivates students in learning about the importance of conservation, energy and technology, referring to Carson Middle School’s solar panels when he was an administrator for the campus at the time.
“I had a group of kids who every day would come up to me at lunch talking to me about how there was some little machine calculating how much energy was saved, and they would come and talk to me about how it was incorrect, and I’d be sitting there, and I’m just trying to make sure these kids are following the rules,” Walker laughed. “But it is of interest to the students. It is motivating for them. It is going to lead them to career fields they haven’t imagined yet. This is a great part of that.”
Korinek said he takes annual tours at Eagle Valley students and is satisfied to see students engaged there. He described the students’ reaction when a consultant uses a drone and collects thermal camera images to pinpoint where heat is being released to maintain the school’s solar panels when a problem occurs.
“It’s another item the kids are super interested in,” Korinek said. “I agree, it’s really satisfying to see the light bulb go on when the kids see this stuff.”
The Sustainability Action Team has set three goals, according to Korinek, which is to develop a comprehensive sustainability management plan for the district. The team is at this phase now, according to Korinek.
The second goal is to offer an open forum at which an exchange of ideas can occur between the community, schools and student organizations encouraging stewardship. The third goal is to encourage and support stewardship opportunities in eco-literacy through discovery for students, project-based learning, science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) activities and career and technical education.
Korinek said the team is working to get teachers involved with this plan, and the start of it is to introduce the first reading of the policy to the board, which calls for the director of operations to prepare a sustainability report that discusses waste preventive measures, energy index update, district carbon footprint and efforts being implemented or revised from the preceding fiscal year.
The policy will return for a second reading on a future board agenda.