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Hot school playgrounds become rising concern


Far too many lack shade trees

The Board of Supervisors this week directed its staff to meet with local school districts and assist them with obtaining state and federal grant money available for cooling measures at campuses in an effort to protect students from extreme heat.

“Due to the nature of their design, many schools are some of the hottest locations in the county,” Supervisor Hilda Solis, who introduced the motion, said in a statement following the unanimous vote. “Play yards dominated by asphalt increase heat risk, and the lack of trees on many campuses results in fewer opportunities for cooling shade. It’s clear many schools need to reimagine their campuses to address extreme heat.”

According to Solis, there are various funding opportunities available for school districts, including a recent state allocation of $73 million for schools to replace asphalt surfaces with green spaces, trees and vegetation.

Her motion directs various county departments to meet with interested school districts to provide them with information about possible funding sources for cooling projects, and to assist them in applying for and obtaining the funds.

It also calls for the county to create a “toolkit” of ways schools can provide cooler environments for children.

“As we continue to see extreme heat-related events due to the climate crisis, we need to act to safeguard our children, teachers, and communities to be better protected, especially those living in heat-prone areas like the San Fernando Valley,” Supervisor Lindsey Horvath, who co-sponsored the motion, said in a statement.