students in a classroom at Davis Public School District in Utah

The last step was making sure everyone was on board. Getting buy-in for any new program is always a critical step — not only for implementation, but to make sure the program is sustained.

In my experience, gaining support from key players means answering three key questions:
• How will the program impact education?
• How will the program impact students and staff?
• How does the program impact finances?

One of the ways we’re trying to get buy-in for this program is by incorporating it into the curriculum. We’ve approached the science department and are considering several learning opportunities such as having students visit the anaerobic digestion site to learn about the process, using actual numbers from their school to calculate a reduction in the carbon footprint, and using the program to grow interest in renewable energy sources and science careers.

We also looked at the overall impact that this program would have on the students and staff. Anything that we can do as a school district to reduce the amount of pollutants that are released into the air will have an impact on student and staff health, and ultimately education.

Finally, we analyzed the financial impact of a process change. Through negotiations with the anaerobic digester and waste management companies, we were able to maintain the same cost as disposing in the landfill or burn plant.

After much research, the anaerobic digester came online in September 2018, and the plan is to implement a minimum of 20 percent of schools every year for the next five years.

For Davis School District, our students, staff and community, diverting our food waste to an anaerobic digester will be a huge win for our education, health and the environment.  

SHAWNA CRAGUN has been with Davis School District for 11 years and serves as the Director of Custodial Services. She oversees 665 employees that protect the health of 72,500 students and 8,000 staff members, while managing 102 buildings with a combined 11 million square feet of floor space. She also serves as president of the Utah School Custodial Managers Association and as spotlight spokesperson for the Indoor Air Quality Division of the EPA. Shawna received the “2018 Outstanding Administrator of the Year” award from the Utah School Employees Association and the Green Cleaning Award for Schools and Universities’ 2018 Silver Award. Shawna also serves as a member of Healthy Schools Campaign’s Green Clean Schools Steering Committee.

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Truly Sustainable Method To Managing Waste