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Sustainability is all about the “green” in Douglas County

CASTLE ROCK – This week marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day and the Douglas County School District (DCSD) has plenty to celebrate. DCSD is a national leader in school sustainability, which is about more than just being environmentally friendly. It is also about saving money.

Over the past seven years, the District has worked diligently to implement several sustainability measures. This earned the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Award in 2013, the first year the agency had given the award at the school district level.

At the school-level, Flagstone  and Larkspur Elementary Schools have both won the Green Ribbon Award and five schools have earned the Green Flag Award including, Castle Rock, Copper Mesa, Fox Creek Flagstone and Heritage Elementary Schools.

Additionally, the efforts mean more money goes back to the District’s classrooms.

“Through energy conservation and waste reduction alone, we’ve been able to save hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said DCSD Sustainability Manager LeeAnn Westfall.

Here are a handful of the sustainability efforts implemented by DCSD:

Utility Audits & Teams
Many of the District’s buildings have been audited for energy and water consumption. The results have helped to empower teams within our buildings, including students at our schools, to create action plans, decreasing power and water usage and, as a result, reducing DCSD’s utility bills.

Idling Reduction
Working with our bus drivers, the District has been able to clear the air and save more than $27,000 over the past six months, by reducing the amount of time our yellow fleet (buses) idle.  Efforts are now underway to spread this work to DCSD's white fleet.

Solar Panels
Thirty of our schools were fitted with solar panels through a Power Purchasing Agreement. The panels generate 2.98 megawatts of energy for our schools and through this innovative arrangement, the District did not have to pay for any of the up front costs or on-going maintenance. DCSD only pays for the electricity generated, at a rate lower than standard electricity rates.

Solar Tubes
Natural lighting has been improved through the usage of solar tubes in a handful of Douglas County Schools.

Wind Turbines
Cherry Valley Elementary and Ponderosa High School have erected wind turbines.

Nearly all Douglas County schools participate in recycling programs, helping to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and decrease the District's trash bill.

In each of these cases, the District’s sustainability team has worked to not only speak to students about the environmental benefits of their efforts, but they also share the economic benefits. In the case of energy conservation, the schools can actually benefit directly from their work, through an innovative incentive program. A portion of the money saved, is sent back to the school.

“The incentive program is unique to Douglas County and gets the kids excited about not only reducing costs but seeing the fruits of their labor, by getting the incentive,” Westfall said.

Westfall and Sustainability Coordinator Courtney Kuntz hope to continue to expand their efforts, in ways that make sense in each school community. They say every little bit helps.

“Sustainability is a lifestyle,” Westfall explained. “It is not about being the greenest you can be, it is about doing your part. Everyone doesn’t have to drive the most fuel-efficient vehicle or walk to work. It is about doing the part that is conducive to your life. As long as all of us are doing a part, as a group we can reduce our impact on the environment.”

Learn more about sustainability in the Douglas County School District at

April 21, 2015 | By rmbarber | Category: Sustainability

District News

graduates standing in line outside, smiling

DOUGLAS COUNTY – Graduation rates in the Douglas County School District (DCSD) continue to climb. Data released today by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) shows the on-time, four-year graduation rate is now 90.4 percent.

DCSD students also made an impressive showing at graduation. The class of 2017 earned more than $82 million in scholarships.

DCSD has one of the highest graduation rates in the Denver metro area. According to CDE, DCSD graduation rates have risen steadily from 81.9 percent in 2009 to 90.4 percent in 2017.

Five female students standing on stage smiling and laughing at the awards ceremony

The top two-percent of female athletes in Douglas County School District (DCSD) were honored at the annual Girls and Women in Sports Luncheon last week at Chaparral High School. This year represented the 30th national celebration of Girls and Women in Sports Day, created to encourage and promote the participation of girls in athletics. The girls who were honored were selected by their school’s coaches, athletic directors and principals for their outstanding achievements.

Superintendent Search text based logo

Working through the recent winter break, the Douglas County School District Board of Education has kicked off its search for DCSD’s next permanent superintendent. Following a thorough vetting of potential search firms, Ray & Associates (no relation to Board Director David Ray) has been hired to conduct the national search. The cost of the firm, excluding travel expenses, is $40,000. The money will come from the school board's budget, which is used for costs such as legal expenses and conferences.