Solar PanelsI haven’t been keeping a formal count, but I think that over the last several months, I have read at least a hundred blog posts or articles about day school sustainability. Please don’t construe this as a critique. I’m pleased that figuring out how to make Jewish day school accessible, affordable, and on-going is part of the larger Jewish dialog in North America. It’s just that I’ve noticed that something is missing.

Conversations around day school sustainability have focused on increasing endowments, finding synergies in back room expenses, increasing the donor pool, making data driven decisions, and pursuing online and blended learning options. This multi-faceted pronged approach does have the strong possibility of making sure that Jewish day schools continue to exist and grow past this current crisis.

The missing link became apparent when I drove by Teaneck High School the other day and saw rows and rows of solar panel canopies covering the parking lot and entrance to the school. What’s fascinating about the arrangement is that it appears that the Teaneck school district did not spend any money on the installation. Instead, they have reduced their cost of purchasing energy by 6 cents per kilowatt hour from the company that owns and operates the solar panels.

It’s a fascinating arrangement and one that I’m wondering the Jewish day school movement should pursue. A small measure of energy independence (coupled with other energy saving efforts – insulation, climate control, etc.) would fit within our larger Jewish values while yielding financial savings in the pursuit of a sustainable model.

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