What institutions have been more important to the life of Montclair than its schools? Our schools are the pride of our community. Yes, I’m voting for the bond referendum because our schools need the investment. They need to be brought into the 21st century, as one school board member likes to say.

And to truly bring our schools into the 21st century, as a community we’ll need to engage in hard work on climate justice and equity in our schools. What does climate justice and equity mean? The dirtiest air our kids breathe all day is on our school buses: why can’t they be clean electric? The plan to upgrade our schools includes all new fossil-fuel boilers: Is that really cost-effective with the rising price of gas? We can’t put solar panels on Glenfield because the nearest transformer can’t handle it: Is that equitable?

Montclair doesn’t have a climate crisis plan for the schools, or a schools sustainability officer. Our community needs to come together to do the hard work. We’ve done it before: It was a Parents’ Emergency Committee that examined performance differences in our schools in the ’60s, eventually leading to our magnet system. As a community, we voted just last year for an elected school board so we could have more say and be more involved in school decisions.

With advocacy and hard work, we can insist that Montclair be a beacon for climate justice and equity. Join me and the other volunteers at Montclair Climate Action (or the Sierra Club, or Northeast Earth Coalition or League of Women Voters or any community you wish!) to learn more about what we need to do now to ensure a clean, just future for our schools, our town and humans everywhere.

Ivy Sheibar