Protecting Students and Staff, Improving Learning
Every school day in New Jersey, children, teachers and school staff face conditions that can cause illness or injury and that make it harder to teach and to learn. On average, New Jersey’s 2,500 school buildings are 50 years old and are four times more densely populated than office buildings. Age, overcrowding, and deferred maintenance strain ventilation, heating, plumbing, electrical systems, and waste energy. Students and staff in many schools are exposed to mold and other indoor air pollutants, triggering asthma attacks and absences due to illness. More than 20% of schools report conditions defined as “so potentially hazardous that they cause an imminent peril to the health and safety of students or staff.”
OUR CAMPAIGN PLATFORM
1. Safe and modernized school buildings. The N.J. Legislature made available almost $4 billion in bonding authority for school facilities projects. Governor Chris Christie stalled funding for construction and renovation projects, and the resulting backlog has not been addressed. It is imperative we invest without delay.
2. Danger-free learning environments. As required by law, the N.J. Department of Education and Schools Development Authority must correct imminent dangers.
3. Healthy air. All schools should comply with state indoor air quality standards that are too often ignored. The N.J. Health Department should ensure that everyone understands the law and that it is followed.
4. Safe temperatures. The legislature should enact the Safe Temperatures Act (S-817/A2492), to require school districts to measure temperatures below 68 degrees or above 79 degrees, to relocate students within two hours of an extreme temperature determination, and to implement feasible temperature controls.
FIGHTING FOR WORTHWHILE OUTCOMES
- A school environment without extreme heat or cold, poor air circulation, mold, or toxic materials such as lead, asbestos, PCBs, and unsafe cleaning products.
- A productive learning environment in which students have access to 21st century technology and are not distracted by rain coming through ceilings or cold winds blowing through windows.
- A reduced rate of absenteeism, providing greater continuity for students, staff, and parents.
- A boost to our economy and local tax base by creating 10,000 construction/renovation jobs annually.
- A smart return on investment as we save money now spent or lost because of illnesses, absences, and energy waste. Updating each school’s energy efficiency can save an average of $100,000 a year.
View a photo collection of unsafe schools.
School Hazard Facts for Families Factsheet Series:
- Unite for Schools Free of Environmental Hazards (en español)
- Unite for a Toxic-Free School (en español)
- Unite for Schools Free of Hazards From Construction (en español)
- Unite for a Mold-Free Schools (en español)
- Unite for Schools Free of Pests and Pesticides (en español)
- Unite for Schools Free of Dust, Dirt, and Germs (en español)
- Schools Hazards Hurt Health and Learning (en español)
- Top School Health and Safety Websites (en español)
- Schools with Good Ventilation (en español)
- Schools with Comfortable Temperatures (en español)
- Statewide Education Organizing Committee
- Union of Rutgers Administrators, AFT Local 1766
- NJ Working Families Alliance
- NJ Education Association
- NJ Work Environment Council
- Mom’s Clean Air Force
- Parents for Progress
- Parents Education Organizing Council
- Newark Teachers Union (AFT Local 481)
- American Federation of Teachers NJ