Montpelier High School Improves Air Quality through Envision Program

For Immediate Release: June 15 , 2006
Contact: Communication Office

MONTPELIER – One vacuum, one cleaning machine, a changeover to “green” cleaning products and the replacement of moldy ceiling tiles have added up to a 37 percent reduction in cold symptoms at Montpelier High School.

The school has leveraged grant money from the Vermont Department of Health Envision Program to improve air quality and reduce the number of illnesses at the school. The number of students reporting cold symptoms between September 2004 through April 2005, and September 2005 through April 2006 decreased from 230 to 144. The number of asthma episodes dropped from 15 to 6.

“So far this year we have had a 10 to 15 percent drop in general illnesses, which is significant,” said Joan Fitch, RN, BSN, school nurse for Montpelier High School. Fitch worked with several faculty members to assess 14 areas of the school including the chemistry lab, lobby, halls and classrooms. “We have significantly reduced air and surface components that cause illness. It’s exciting because we recently established an environmental policy for the school district and the students are becoming more involved. It has become an ongoing project.”

The school spent approximately $3,000 to improve air quality by reducing allergens, radon, odors and molds and switching to cleaning products that contained no harmful chemicals.

“Children spend so much time in schools that we need to ensure they have a healthy environment to learn in,” said Robert Varney, regional administrator of Environmental Protection Agency’s New England office. “I applaud Montpelier High School for taking steps to improve indoor air quality for their students, faculty and staff. It's exciting that this important work is being expanded to other schools in Vermont.”

Montpelier High School is one of eight schools that have qualified to receive a Envision Program Certificate of Achievement for their work in 2005. The certificates are awarded to schools that demonstrate exemplary progress in a minimum of four environmental health areas.

Gov. Jim Douglas will present the awards at a Statehouse Ceremony (Cedar Creek Room) on Wednesday, June 21 at 11 a.m.

The recipients are:

“The success experienced at these schools clearly demonstrates how quickly the benefits of a cleaner environment can be realized,” said Gov. Jim Douglas. “Student achievement is directly related to the quality of the school environment. The Envision Program is achieving its mission to lower absenteeism rates, decrease health complaints and elevate productivity.”

Sharon Moffatt, RN, BSN, MSN, interim commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health will join Richard Cate, commissioner, Department of Education, and R. Tasha Wallis, commissioner, Department of Buildings & General Services at the event.

“The Envision Program grants can act as a catalyst to establish effective environmental health policies that benefit, students, faculty and anyone who visits the schools,” Moffatt said. “The statistical improvements shown by Montpelier High School are remarkable and highlight the importance of expanding the number of schools who actively participate in the Envision Program.”

Vermont State House School Environmental Health Awards

June 21, 2006, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. - Cedar Creek Room


  1. Welcome and opening remarks
  2. Envision Program criteria and the role of the schools - Sharon Moffatt, RN, BSN, MSN, Interim Commissioner Vermont Department of Health.
  3. EPA Indoor Air Quality Efforts -Eugene Benoit, EPA, Region I
  4. Common Facility Improvements that Improve Indoor Air Quality  - P. Tasha Wallis, Commissioner Department of Buildings & General Services
  5. Healthier Students Perform Better - Richard Cate, Commissioner Department of Education
  6. Awards and Remarks - Governor James H. Douglas
  7. Closing Remarks - Montpelier High School Assistant to the Principal Jennifer Wall-Howard.


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