Roots and Shoots presents to School Board regarding climate action

Building renovations to improve energy usage across district


Noah Orloff

Senior Roots and Shoots member Rachel Mattson speaks in front of the School Board March 25. According to Mattson, people were respectful in response to the presentation.

Marta Hill, Emma Leff, and Noah Orloff

After Roots and Shoots presented to the School Board regarding the school district’s involvement with the Climate Action Plan, senior Katie Christiansen, who is the club’s leader, said she felt optimistic about the reception within the community.

“It felt like we were really in a space to start a conversation with the School Board and the school district about participating in the Climate Action Plan for the city,” Christiansen said.

St. Louis Park Public Schools Superintendent Astein Osei said the the numerous meetings with Roots and Shoots over the past two years resulted in the presentation.

“(Last year) I started to meet with students from the Roots and Shoots group, and it started off just very general about some of the work that they were doing with the city and the community and just some of their beliefs,” Osei said. “It eventually evolved into specifically looking at our school district and what we could do to make a larger impact on the environment.”

Although the City Council approved the Climate Action Plan, Christiansen said it does not mean the district must abide by the plan’s requirements.

“The (city) obviously only has dominion over its own facilities, and the school actually falls under the commercial sector, so the school doesn’t necessarily have to (follow the Climate Action Plan),” Christiansen said.

According to Osei, the district plans to take advantage of the building renovations occurring under the $100.9 million referendum by creating more environmentally-friendly facilities.

“We are going through and doing the construction projects as a part of the $100.9 million bond referendum. We are planning on really making our spaces more energy efficient,” Osei said.

Senior Roots and Shoots member Rachel Mattson said the audience’s positive response to the presentation will hopefully lead to a step in the right direction.

“Everyone was very (supportive),” Mattson said. “It was clear the community is in full support of the projects because not only is it good, but it is also setting a good model for all of the other surrounding districts, so hopefully Minnesota can become a little greener to lead the country, and then the world and save this planet.”

According to Osei, no other school district has approved an agreement similar to Roots and Shoots’ proposal.

“There haven’t been any school districts yet to kind of sign onto an agreement like this or have passed any sort of resolution of this nature, so (I) kind of wanted St. Louis Park to be a leader in that area,” Osei said.

Mattson said Park’s ability to remain on the forefront of climate action in Minnesota shows the dedication the student body has for the environment.


“It’s cool for St. Louis Park because, even though we aren’t the richest district in the area, it is cool to see that our students care a lot about the community and the planet,” Mattson said. “It is really telling that we are the first to put out such an aggressive goal. It is very cool to think that our school and our community is the start to all of this. It is bringing Minnesota to a place of change.”

Osei said he continues to be impressed and grateful for the leadership and initiative shown by students at Park.

“Whenever there are issues that are facing our country, I’m always appreciative to see young adults, students kind of step up and play a part in helping to find solutions, and that is what I see the Roots and Shoots group doing,” Osei said. “I think that that is going to be required if we are going to tackle some of the tougher challenges that we need to tackle in this country.”