D202 board hears sustainability update

The Evanston Township High School District 202 Board of Education heard an update on the district’s sustainability policies during its meeting Monday evening.

Since the district Green New Deal sustainability policies adopted in February, the Green New Deal Sustainability Policy Planning Committee has developed an action plan. The plan revolves around eight goals, including some focused on food waste, environmental education and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In keeping with its food goal, ETHS has eliminated milk cartons and individual packets of condiments in the cafeteria and instead uses bulk bottles, said Kim Minestra, the district’s director of nutrition services.

Minestra said the next food-related action is increasing plant-based options at every meal service. The committee’s goal is to source 25% of food locally and have 50% of food options plant-based by January 2030.

The district is also currently implementing a climate change curriculum in its biology and social studies courses, committee member and ETHS senior Milo Slevin said.

The commission also plans to create a public web portal to display data and actions, said John Crawford, the district’s director of operations and sustainability.

Slevin said the various aspects of sustainability policy prepare students for what the future of the climate holds.

“This isn’t just about a group of community members, a group of students, a group of teachers,” he said. “We want this to be integrated into the framework of ETHS, and we want every student to leave (having) been properly educated about climate change.”

The board also heard a recommendation on changing student enrollment fees from the district’s business office.

The proposed change would standardize the fee for all grades at $365. Currently, students in grades 10 through 12 pay $340, while freshmen and transfer students pay $380.

The additional $40 cost is for new student uniforms, a heart rate monitor strap and CPR certification.

Under both the current and proposed structure, students who qualify for free or reduced lunch will pay a $25 registration fee.

Kendra Williams, the district’s chief financial officer, said student grants are an “instrumental tool” to help support various district programs.

“(Student funding) goes a long way in terms of how we can support extracurricular activities that attract so many of our students,” Williams said. “If we want to continue to expand what we want to offer our students, (the rate adjustment) is one of the ways we can do that.”

Williams added that a change in registration fees is necessary due to the expansion of district offerings. She cited giving each student their own Chromebook as an example of a new offering since the last rate adjustment, which took place during the 2014-2015 school year.

Part of the proposal also includes replacing heart rate monitors with smart watches, which the Department of Physical Education recommends because watches provide more honest fitness assessments, said Rudy Meo, director of Business Services.

Later in the meeting, ETHS junior Rachel Durango-Cohen was sworn in as the new student representative on the board, replacing ETHS senior Nicole Yao, who served as the student representative for the past two years.

Board member Patricia Maunsell emphasized that collaboration with students on district policies is moving the district in a positive direction.

“I think working together and listening to our students is the best of what we are at ETHS,” Maunsell said.

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