El Monte, CA – Los Angeles has the distinction of being the smoggiest metropolitan area in the nation, but El Monte Union High School District was recognized for being a clean-air hero in its community by the Coalition for Clean Air (CCA) and the Los Angeles County Office of Education during an event on Sept. 28.
Schools in El Monte Union sit in the middle of three heavily used Los Angeles freeways and the population is disproportionately affected by poor air quality. A $9.8 million grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) allowed the District to purchase electric school buses, ride-share and utility vehicles, build charging infrastructure, develop active transportation plans and undertake an array of educational activities about clean mobility.
“The decision of El Monte Union to adopt some of the first electric school buses in Los Angeles County is a beacon of hope and an example for school districts not only across California, but across the nation,” LA County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Debra Duardo said. “This initiative signifies that we possess the technology, the determination, and the foresight to transition towards sustainable transportation, safeguarding the health and well-being of our most precious resource – our students.”
Along with the electric school buses, the District is developing innovative career technical education modules on clean energy careers for students, and has also produced an animated short, “Taking a Healthy Ride on the Green Side” with two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and creator of the nationally syndicated comic strip, “La Cucaracha”, Lalo Alcaraz. The 90-second animation and its companion 30-second PSAs in English and Spanish connect clean mobility with air quality and encourage students and their families to choose clean transportation options to get to school.
“Meeting with the students at the start of the project was really cool,” Alcaraz said. “They gave it to us straight when talking about their environmental concerns, the challenges they face, and how they travel to and from school. We came out of that meeting revved up about the project and what it will mean for students and families to get this information – and what it could mean for the community as a whole to make clean energy choices.”
During the event, South El Monte High School’s Environment to Climate Action club and Mountain View High School’s (MVHS) Associated Student Body (ASB) president engaged with school leaders and CCA members. They emphasized the critical significance of environmental care and protection, and shared their pride in being part of a District that is taking proactive measures to enhance the well-being of the entire El Monte community.
“I care deeply about the community I live in and having a healthy environment,” MVHS ASB president DeAdalene Olmedo said. “I am a part of my school’s VISTA Academy Communications program, which has given me the opportunity to help spread the word about how simple actions people can take each day, like choosing a clean, green way to get to school, can have an impact on air quality for all of us.”
The event concluded on an educational and eco-friendly note, with attendees enjoying a ‘ride on the green side’ as they hopped aboard one of the District’s electric buses for a tour around the area.
“Green energy is a vital part of our future, and we want our community to benefit from the cleaner air it can provide,” Superintendent Dr. Edward Zuniga said. “We also want students to have the tools they need to pursue careers in this important growing sector. The Clean Mobility in Schools project has allowed us to pursue all those goals meaningfully. We are grateful for the Coalition for Clean Air’s recognition of our District’s efforts.”
The Clean Mobility in Schools Pilot Project is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment – particularly in disadvantaged communities. For more information, visit emuhsdmobility.com.
Video and audio content from Clean Air Day Event.
EMUHSD_CLEAN AIR DAY_1: Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Debra Duardo commends the El Monte Union High School District for their efforts toward clean mobility during an event on Sept. 29 in celebration of California Clean Air Day.
EMUHSD_CLEAN AIR DAY_2: South El Monte High School’s Environment to Change (ETC) Action club students engage with school leaders and Coalition for Clean Air members emphasizing the critical significance of environmental care and protection during a Clean Air Day celebration event on Sept. 28.
EMUHSD_CLEAN AIR DAY_3: Coalition for Clean Air President and CEO Dr. Joe Lyou gives a speech and takes his clean air day pledge by vowing to replace his old car air filter with a new one each year during an event Sept. 28 in celebration of California Clean Air Day.