'Greening' L.A.'s Schoolyards

Advocates for increasing green space on school campuses say giving students a more healthy outdoor environment can also reduce the urban heat island effect and improve public health in historically underserved communities.

2 minute read

March 29, 2022, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


According to an article by Tony Barboza, "too many children are forced to learn and play in paved-over, fenced-in and often treeless campuses that draw apt comparisons to prison yards or parking lots." 

"These conditions are detrimental to learning, health and well-being, and especially harmful because they are so common in the same low-income communities of color that already suffer from a lack of tree canopy, park space and higher exposure to heat and pollution." To address this issue, Los Angeles Unified School District’s new superintendent, Alberto Carvalho, "has promised to release a plan within his first 100 days to green schoolyards, starting with asphalt-dominated campuses in neighborhoods with the greatest need for open space."

The new superintendent isn't the first to notice this problem. Last year, Planetizen reported on the Trust for Public Land's analysis of urban schoolyards and their potential to double as much-needed green space in park-poor communities. "Advocacy groups say that despite some success at individual school sites, district and state bureaucracy is a barrier to removing asphalt from school campuses across the city, sometimes because of concerns about increased maintenance costs or due to space requirements for activities like basketball, tetherball and four square that restrict the number of trees and amount landscaping that can be planted."

Barboza points out that converting LAUSD's schoolyards, at less than $2 million per campus, would cost less than building a new park, and argues that the benefits of healthy, green environments outweigh the investment required.

Sunday, March 27, 2022 in Los Angeles Times

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