School Board Discusses F-35 with Council

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Thursday July 18, 2013

At the July 15 steering committee meeting between the City Council and School Board, the Board requested that the topic of the F35s be placed on the agenda, primarily so that  Council could be given an update on the Board’s recent action. Board member Martin LaLonde had been asked by the board to examine the most recent Draft Environmental Impact Statement to see if the questions the board had submitted to the Air Force in May 2012 had been answered. LaLonde’s conclusion was that the analysis was insufficient. 


LaLonde stressed that the school board has not taken a pro or con position, but the Board would like more thorough information from the Air Force regarding noise impacts on the District’s schools and its effects on cognitive ability. In addition, the cumulative impact on the District needs to be considered, such as the FAA program for purchasing and demolishing homes around the increased noise zone. Would this mean losing enrollment and a solid tax base for the schools?  Given these lingering, unanswered questions, LaLonde (on behalf of the school board) submitted a letter to the Air Force on July 15, requesting answers to these queries. 


Councilor Chris Shaw said he noticed that 40 students had transferred from Chamberlin to Central School recently, and both he and Helen Riehle wondered if noise  had been identified as one the reasons for doing so. Superintendent Young explained that he did not know all the reasons behind the transfers, but could likely find out from Chamberlin principal Holly Rouelle. He did mention that students had the choice to transfer from a school that did not make adequate yearly progress (Chamberlin) to a school that had (Central) for the coming year and that the timeframe for doing so was wider than it was the year before, which could account for the greater number of students transferring as well. 


There is the potential that more light will be shed on this matter when residents of the neighborhood surrounding Chamberlin School are invited to voice concerns regarding their homes at an August 19 public meeting being held at Chamberlin School at 7 p.m. Council Chair Pam Mackenzie said she has gathered a panel of speakers, including Gene Richards from the Airport Strategic Planning Committee, and Charlie Baker from the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, to give some background on the home buyout program and Federal and State funding that’s available. Mackenzie also invited school board members’ suggestions for additional panelists. 


SOURCE: Corey Burdick,Correspondent