By Allison Jarrell
A coalition of student clubs within four Capistrano Unified School District high schools began petitioning Feb. 1 to install solar panel arrays on every high school campus in the district.
The “Dear Capistrano Unified School District: Let’s Go Solar!” petition on change.org has already garnered more than 530 signatures from area students, parents, faculty and supporters interested in utilizing solar energy in schools.
The San Juan Hills High School’s Ecology Action Team, led by sophomore and club president Russell Tran, has taken charge of the student-led movement with assistance from KyotoUSA, a Berkeley-based nonprofit organization that works with cities, public school districts and communities to develop strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Other schools involved with the petition include Dana Hills High School, San Clemente High School and Tesoro High School.
Tran said neighboring school districts in Los Angeles, Irvine, Newport-Mesa and Santa Ana have successfully implemented solar array projects, and he hopes CUSD will follow suit. He noted that CUSD has several funding options for solar, including Proposition 39, Qualified Zone Academy Bonds, California Energy Commission zero percent interest loans and low-interest Clean Renewable Energy bonds.
“Students represent the citizens of the next generation, so by getting students involved in activism or being proactive in society, we can build a better world that way,” Tran said. “We’re demonstrating what we learn in school about freedom of speech and democracy—we want to show the district that we’re taking initiative.”
The coalition of students plans to present their petition to the Board of Trustees at a future meeting.
In the meantime, CUSD spokesman Ryan Burris said the district has begun reaching out to the high schools and clubs involved in the solar movement to ensure they’re part of the district’s ongoing conversation regarding funding, facility improvements and energy efficiency efforts.
Burris added that at the Board of Trustees’ Feb. 10 meeting, energy audit services provided by Schneider Electric were approved in order to capitalize on the available funding through Proposition 39.
For more information on the students’ solar petition, visit www.cusdsolar.org.