PORTLAND, Maine — Going green is not just about having options to tackle climate change, it’s also about taking action. In our latest story from Maine’s Changing Climate, we’re taking a look at a proposal to more easily connect Maine schools to green opportunities.

Rep. Marc Malon, D-Biddeford, is sponsoring a bill he said will help schools battling heating costs and large carbon footprints.

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"This bill would create a green schools coordinator in the Maine Department of Education, and this person would serve as that hub and could help districts do the research and identify projects and solutions which make sense for every individual district, because the needs are going to vary district to district, and to also help identify potential funding sources," Malon said.

This coordinator could help schools set up contracts for winterization projects. Malon said in the long run this position would help schools and taxpayers save money, while also working to reduce our overall carbon footprint.

“Having someone in the Maine Department of Education who could serve as a hub for school districts and a resource for them to help them navigate the options that are out there would make a lot of sense,” Malon said.

The position, if approved, would be funded from the state's general fund. NEWS CENTER Maine reached out to Maine’s Department of Education, which supports this legislation. They said the position would also include student voices for green initiatives.

Testimony of Courtney Belolan, Director of Policy and Government

In Support of: L.D. 612

An Act to Create a Green Schools Coordinator in the Department of Education

Before the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs

Sponsored by: Representative Marc Malon

Co-Sponsored by: Representatives Abdi, Brennan, Dodge, Jauch, LaRochelle, Murphy, and Rana and Senator Rafferty

March 9, 2023

Sen. Rafferty, Rep. Brennan, and Distinguished Members of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committees:

I am Courtney Belolan, Director of Policy & Government Affairs for the Department of Education, and am here to speak in support of LD 612, An Act to Create a Green Schools Coordinator in the Department of Education. This bill creates the position of green schools coordinator within the Department of Education to assist department staff and other relevant stakeholders in establishing school facility priorities and working with school administrative units regarding building weatherization and modification for the use of renewable energy resources.

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The Department’s biennium budget includes three positions focused on green schools. Budget initiative reference number 1135 establishes one Public Service Executive II position that will serve as the Director of Green Schools. The Director of Green Schools will direct and oversee new and existing climate and green energy initiatives and coordinate those efforts across teams within the Department. Department projects will include construction, transportation, and connections to K-12 initiatives, in particular, engaging student voices in green initiatives. Areas of focus for this position will also include grant writing and coordination of green projects across departments and agencies. In the larger sense, this position will bring clarity and coordination to the support of green infrastructure in our schools by inspiring students, teachers, school administrators, parents and staff to make their schools and communities more sustainable. Budget initiative reference number 1150 provides funding for two contracted green building experts to support green construction and renovation in school buildings statewide. These two contracted positions will work under the Director of Green Schools and collaborate closely with the School Construction Team.

The Department will be available to provide additional information on LD 612 An Act to Create a Green Schools Coordinator in the Department of Education and respond to any questions at the work sessions on this bill.

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