Sustainable Naperville Schools

Imagine your kids riding to school in electric school buses, no longer having to breathe the polluted air from burning diesel. Envision every school rooftop covered in solar panels or thriving with plant life.

Think about money redirected from heating and cooling school buildings to educational opportunities for students because the buildings are now highly energy efficient. Picture healthy school lunches that do not create mountains of plastic and food waste.

This is the vision of NEST’s School District Engagement team. This team formed to work with both District 203 and Indian Prairie School District (District 204) on sustainability. In September and October, we had the chance to meet with the superintendents and other administrators from both districts. Here are some of the things we learned:

  • Both districts understand that they have the responsibility to undertake sustainability measures.
    • District 203 is writing a sustainability plan. 
    • District 204 is preparing a Facilities Master Plan, which will consider efficiency upgrades, solar, and electric vehicle charging. They understand the need to be “future-ready” so that their buildings will last another 50 years.
  • Student voices matter. The more they hear from students, parents, and the community that sustainability is a priority, the more they will make it a priority.
  • Fiscal responsibility is a top concern, so demonstrating that investing in sustainability saves money over the long run is a winning argument.

The next step for the School District Engagement team is to work with the NEST Youth team to create and distribute a survey on sustainability priorities for students, parents, and staff. In addition, the team will be creating fact sheets, infographics, and white papers on a variety of topics, which we will share with the districts. We will also continue to work to develop positive, collaborative working relationships with decision-makers in each district.

A big thank you to all the volunteers who planned and participated in the meetings with the districts. A special shout out to our student members: Riley Leu (Metea), Vallabh Arun (Waubonsie Valley), Madie Weir (Naperville North), Milo Weese (Naperville North), Emma Orend (Naperville Central), Claire Savage (Naperville Central), and Grace Niketas (Naperville Central).