Reading, Pennsylvania – Education Secretary Dr. Noe Ortega visited the Reading School District today to highlight the district’s efforts in environmental education programs and to advocate for increased investment in the education of Kindergarten to Grade 12 across the Commonwealth.
“With Earth Day fast approaching, there has never been a better time for students and schools in Pennsylvania to learn how to contribute to environmental sustainability and make our world a better and more place. healthy”, Dry. said Ortega. “The investments we make today in our education system and our environment – and the efforts we make to link the two together – will literally have a life-changing impact for decades to come.”
During his visit to the district, Sec. Ortega visited Amanda Stout Elementary School’s rooftop play deck, where he learned about the One Bird program, Two Habitats, and the school’s recently installed rain barrels.
He then visited Reading High School to see the progress of the outdoor classroom being installed in the yard. The district received an environmental education grant from the PA Department of Environmental Protection and a grant from Lowes to help cover the materials needed to turn the yard into an outdoor learning space.
“Students in the Reading School District are excellent stewards of the environment and we love seeing their curiosity about the world around them soar. We appreciate Secretary Ortega and his team taking the time to tour Reading High School’s Eco Yard, as well as hearing what our elementary students are learning about nature, birds and Earth Day,” said Dr. Jennifer Murray, Superintendent, Reading School. District. “Governor Wolf’s proposal to add a historic increase in basic education funding is important to provide resources for students to meet their emotional educational and social needs. For the Reading School District, the funding will support hiring more teachers, counselors and social workers, improving technology and STEM programs, and improving the learning environment by improving installations such as new lighting and ventilation systems, among other improvements.
“The transformation of the yard brought together students, teachers, administrators and community partners,” said Waldo Alvarado, Principal of Reading High School. “This group of environmentally conscious visionaries is called the Green Team. Thanks to their commitment, Reading High is now a Certified Bronze Level Eco-School under the National Wildlife Federation program. It was very gratifying to see how engaged our students were in all phases of this project. Their vision is now becoming a reality by creating an outdoor classroom with art murals, gardens to attract birds, pond upgrades, birdhouses and many other great ideas.
Governor Tom Wolf’s final budget proposes a $1.55 billion increase in funding for basic education, including $200 million for special education. Over the past seven years, Governor Wolf has secured $1.8 billion in additional funding for pre-K through college, including more than $1.1 billion for basic education, $190 million for special education and $40 million for vocational and technical education.
Additionally, over the past seven years, the Wolf administration has invested $116 million in STEM education. The 2022-2023 budget builds on these successful education programs, further extending high-quality education to more Pennsylvanians and laying a solid foundation for future Pennsylvania workers, citizens, and leaders.
The PA Department of Education (PDE) provides environmental and green standards for schools, which combine natural and social responsibilities to make the world more sustainable. These standards help students become active participants and problem solvers in real-life issues that affect them, their homes, schools, and communities. The standards enable teachers and students to use science, technology and social systems to help create a better future.
For more information about the Pennsylvania Department of Education, please visit the website or follow PDE on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Pinterest.
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