Young In Kim, Contributing Photographe

The New Haven Board of Education unanimously adopted a “climate emergency” resolution this past Tuesday, Sept. 27.

The four-page resolution urges the Board of Education to declare a climate emergency, improve climate education and support mobilization efforts in New Haven Public Schools. The proposal was introduced by the New Haven Climate Movement, an intergenerational organization that pushes for grassroots, climate-focused action in New Haven. 

“There are a lot of goals here, but we’re not tying the hands of the administration,”  Board of Education Vice President Matt Wilcox said at the Tuesday board meeting. “It’s really a call for us to be doing something concrete. We want to have a real attempt to see what can be done in six months and figure out what the problem areas are.”

Wilcox provided guidance to students in the drafting process. He said the campaign language is deliberately open-ended to ensure that the Board can pursue climate-related goals without the pressure of a deadline. The Board will meet in April to discuss their progress and future objectives pertaining to the resolution.

When drafting the resolution, NHCM’s Climate Education Team prioritized garnering student support. NHCM members publicized their petition at New Haven high schools, calling the Board of Education to take action against the climate crisis. The petition received over 600 signatures, which was imperative in demonstrating student support to the Board of Education.

“It was really empowering to see that youth can bring attention to climate change,” said Young In Kim, a senior at Wilbur Cross High School and a member of the NHCM education team. “We were lucky to have board members that were willing to listen to youth voices.”

The resolution, which includes plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency and teach emergency preparedness, was widely supported by students and board members alike. 

However, Board member and former president Darnell Goldson thought the resolution was missing a key component. During deliberations at the school board meeting, Goldson proposed an additional item to the resolution, stipulating a plan for the recycling of glass, plastic and paper products. 

“I was shocked to learn that we have all these recycling bins in the schools, but we don’t recycle anything,” Goldson told the News. “We actually mix it with the garbage.” 

According to Connecticut State law, all schools are required to recycle. 

The motion, with the added amendment, passed unanimously. Chief Operating Officer of NHCM Thomas Lamb said at the Tuesday board meeting that he will look into the costs of a recycling program on a six-month timeline. 

Despite voting in favor, Goldson acknowledged that passing this resolution is not enough. He urged students to continue taking actions to hold officials accountable.

“Resolutions get passed all the time and then get forgotten,” he said. “So stay on top of this. Don’t let it go. Don’t get comfortable.” 

The Board of Education’s Climate Emergency Resolution follows the City Climate Emergency Resolution, which the Board of Alders unanimously passed in 2019.

Ava Saylor serves as an editor for WKND and covers education and youth services. She is a junior in Ezra Stiles College majoring in political science and education studies.
Pia Baldwin Edwards reports on Connecticut State Policy and how it impacts New Haven. Pia is originally from Evanston, Illinois, but as of a few years ago, now calls New Orleans home. She is a first year in Saybrook College majoring in Ethics, Politics, and Economics.