Bill would encourage Kentucky schools to use more 'green' cleaning supplies

FRANKFORT — A bill to encourage but not require Kentucky school districts to use more "green" cleaning materials to keep their buildings neat and sanitary is headed for the state House floor.

Backers of House Bill 146, which won quick approval Tuesday in the House Education Committee, said such cleaning products are easy on the environment, work as well as less ecologically friendly cleansers and would cost schools no more to use.

Committee chairman Carl Rollins, D-Midway, said, however, that an amendment would be offered on the House floor to remove disinfectants from the legislation. Rollins, the bill's sponsor, said the available green disinfectants might not be effective enough for school use.

HB 146, the Green Cleaning Schools Act, would require the state Department of Education to promote green cleaning programs, provide information to school districts and publish lists of districts with such cleaning programs.

Joanie Hendricks, a spokeswoman for Warren County Public Schools, told committee members that her district has used environmentally friendly cleaners for almost 10 years as a part of its general sustainability program. Janitorial workers weren't even aware the district had switched, she said.

"They cost about the same now as standard cleaning products. ... It's an easy change to make," Hendricks said. "These have less side effects; they don't release toxins into the waste water. It takes less water to dilute the cleaners, which in the long run saves money as well."

In other action Tuesday, the education committee endorsed HB 69, which would promote early identification and intervention programs in kindergarten through third grade for students with various forms of dyslexia. Similar bills have passed the House at least three times only to die in the Senate.

HB 69's sponsor, Rep. Linda Belcher, D-Shepherdsville, said that identifying children at an early age greatly improves the chances that remedial programs can help them.

The committee also approved HB 168, aimed at keeping school superintendents from using alternative education programs as "dumping grounds" for teachers or other district employees who are undergoing disciplinary actions. Supporters said there is anecdotal evidence suggesting superintendents sometimes assign employees to alternative schools during their disciplinary procedures.

The bill is intended to protect students, Rollins said.

"The reason I called the bill is that students assigned to alternative education programs need the very best teachers," Rollins said. "They don't need the worst teachers. They don't need teachers who have discipline problems."

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