TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The school superintendent in Florida’s capital county has been honored statewide as the most innovative and effective “green” leader in the state for his groundbreaking ideas fostering environmental sustainability. Leon County School Superintendent Jackie Pons was named the winner in the “Leadership” category of Sustainable Florida’s Best Practice Awards program, clearly establishing him among elected officials as one of the state’s foremost visionaries.
At a ceremony in West Palm Beach, Pons was honored for a series of environment- and budget-friendly initiatives, including his idea to transition his district’s school bus fleet and other vehicles to run on compressed natural gas, a change that will save taxpayer money while protecting the environment and children’s health.
“At the heart of these initiatives is the needs of our students,” said Pons. “Not only do they learn from our example how to be good stewards of the environment, but the money we save will go right back into the schools to strengthen the quality of their education. This award really recognizes efforts that will help the kids, and that makes it so much more of an honor.”
At Pons’ direction, the school district studied the environmental and economic benefits of alternative fuels for its fleet, leading to a unique 20-year partnership with Nopetro, LLC. A compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station built and operated by Nopetro will be completed later this month. The school district’s CNG vehicles will be able to refuel there – as will other public and private CNG vehicles, with the school district receiving royalties from those sales.
Pons was also recognized for his commitment to fiscal and environmental stewardship, including initiatives that have cut energy consumption across Leon County schools by almost 13 million kilowatt hours in the past year alone for a taxpayer savings of more than $1.37 million. In addition, Pons was hailed for his instrumental role in the development of conservation-related curricula for all grade levels and partnership with The Sharing Tree, a reusable resource center.
“Sustainable Florida recognizes individuals who demonstrate a passion for — and a deep understanding of — how important Florida’s environment is to the economic future of our state,” Chairman Joe Kilsheimer says. “In the case of Superintendent Pons, his leadership in devising a public/private partnership that converted school buses to compressed natural gas will result in both long-term savings to taxpayers and, at the same time, long-term benefits for the environment in terms of reduced emissions.”
The Sustainable Florida Best Practice Awards recognize businesses, organizations and individuals for their dynamic work in helping to create a sustainable Florida. Superintendent Pons was selected over 13 other nominees in the Leadership category.