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Los Angeles Unified Accelerates Effort to Bring Green Space to All Schools (09-27-22)

CONTACT: Megan VandenBos, 213-241-6388   

September 27, 2022

Los Angeles Unified Accelerates Effort to Bring Green Space to All Schools 

Resolution sets a minimum threshold of 30% green space for playgrounds by 2035

LOS ANGELES, September 27, 2022 – As Los Angeles confronts another heat wave, the Los Angeles Board of Education unanimously voted today to accelerate and greatly expand efforts to bring green space to all its campuses. The resolution, authored by Board President Kelly Gonez, establishes a minimum standard of 30% green space for all campuses and directs the Superintendent to develop a plan to meet the standard district-wide by 2035, prioritizing schools with the most asphalt for immediate action. 

“As we confront climate change, our students are more in need of shaded green spaces than ever before,” said Board President Gonez. “For decades our school district has built playgrounds almost entirely of asphalt with no shade cover, which only exacerbates extreme heat. Today, we are committing to transforming our campuses by bringing tree canopies, plants, and outdoor learning spaces for all our students to learn and play. By establishing a clear goal and timeline to make our campuses greener, we are invigorating new urgency, accountability, and energy to this cause to ensure every school offers the shade and greenery that our kids deserve.” 

Research shows that green spaces on or around a school campus help improve student well-being, physical and mental health, as well as academic performance. Yet, despite Los Angeles Unified’s efforts to bring more green space to campuses, only 16% of our District campuses currently meet the recommendation that 30% of a school campus be dedicated to green space. The resolution also calls for identifying bond, general fund, and grant dollars to fund the green space expansion by the deadline of 2035. 

“Today, the National Weather Service issued another excessive heat warning for Los Angeles as the temperature soared past 100, another reminder that our students need a cool and shaded place to learn and play,” Board Member Dr. George J. McKenna III said. “Green space is rare in many of the neighborhoods served by Los Angeles Unified. The expansion of shaded areas and additional school gardens will help students learn and benefit everyone who lives in that area.”

“For decades, the underserved and most vulnerable communities in Los Angeles have lacked green and outdoor space,” said Board Member Scott M. Schmerelson. “Over the last few years, climate change has affected the entire LAUSD community with extreme heat and high fire danger conditions. This resolution will allow us to continue our advocacy efforts so that soon we can provide a green, sustainable and healthy environment to all our schools.” 

“Every student, school, and community should have access to green space, and I’m proud of our ongoing efforts to provide outdoor learning spaces, campus gardens, school community parks, and campus shade,” said Vice President Nick Melvoin. “Today’s resolution reaffirms the districtwide priority to find innovative and collaborative greening solutions for our school communities.”

“Los Angeles Unified is demonstrating its commitment to be a progressive global leader in best practices for climate resiliency through how we design and manage our energy, water, waste, transportation and green schoolyard systems,” said Board Member Jackie Goldberg. “Promoting green schools and climate literacy will help our students become engaged, proactive leaders of the future.”

“In today’s devasting reality of climate change and environmental injustice, it’s crucial that school districts take specific action to mitigate the harmful effects on our students,” said Board Member Tanya Ortiz Franklin. “This resolution ensures that schools with the greatest need for green space and students with the greatest need for safe and healthy outdoor play are prioritized as we make Los Angeles Unified sustainable and enjoyable for all.” 

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