The day after Town Meeting Day, the school board held its March 6 meeting and discussed various topics, including a review of board member policies, noise concerns at Chamberlin School, and the use of security cameras.
Chamberlin School soundproofing
The topic of the night was airport noise at the Chamberlin School. The school currently deals with the noise generated by the F16 fighter jets stationed at the Vermont Air National Guard base at the Burlington International Airport and, while things will quiet down from April through August, the new F35A fighter jets are expected to take to the skies this September. Superintendent David Young has been communicating with both the Burlington Airport management officials and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), sharing concerns and putting forth ideas on how to ensure that Chamberlin is fit for instruction. The school qualified for an FAA grant that would fund soundproofing, however, an upcoming change to the noise exposure maps could jeopardize receiving the funds. Young has submitted a public records request to the airport in an effort to get some answers to make sure they are set up for the arrival of the F35As.
“I’m not particularly sure why they have not been able to provide us with some of the information to date, but I’m asking for the results of the FAA testing, which they alluded to that they could get us,” Young said. “…I need to make informed decisions. September, for me, is approaching quickly.”
Ideas for sound mitigation include additional insulation, new windows, or installing air conditioning, as the noise is mostly a problem when windows are open during the warmer months.
Besides unhealthy noise levels, there is also concern for the classroom learning experience. Currently during takeoffs, teachers report that they are forced to pause their lessons for 10-15 seconds at a time, known in the school as “The Chamberlin Pause.”
“Certainly, most important, we don’t want it to be a health-related hazard to anybody for hearing the noise and, second, it’s really about instructional interruption,” Young concluded.
Updates to security cameras
The board went over the first reading of Policy E2, which deals with the use of security cameras. The board is committed to the use of cameras as a safety measure; the Superintendent will not allow cameras to be used “in any way that is unlawful, imprudent, in violation of commonly accepted practices, or that violates the mission and core values of the school district.”
Several changes have been made to the policy, most notably eliminating the 72-hour expiration date on footage (recordings will not be stored indefinitely, but the exact amount of time they are stored will remain undisclosed for security purposes), as well as the allowance of administrators to use recordings to investigate incidents related to safety. The original paragraph stated that administrators could not use recordings to investigate misconduct. A concern from the audience was raised over the omission of this protection for students. The board will be taking this into consideration and making further changes before the policy is up for approvals.
Acknowledgments and student representative roundup
After welcoming newly-elected school board member Brian Minier, board chair Elizabeth Fitzgerald began the meeting by asking for a moment of silence to honor student Claire Deng, who passed away on Feb. 27. Claire attended Rick Marcotte Central School and was currently an 8th grader at Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School. She was 13 years old.
Student representative Arnel Husrefovic flew solo this week, as his fellow representative Cole Patno was attending the final dress rehearsal for “The Whole Shebang,” a student-directed play. The comedy was presented on March 7 and 8. Husrefovic also promoted the annual Talent Night scheduled for March 14 at 7 p.m. He briefed the board on sporting events, notably the dance and bowling teams both winning respective state championships over the winter break. The bowling team also took home a sportsmanship award. Lastly, Husrefovic commented on the boys’ basketball team’s “huge upset victory” over Champlain Valley Union High School on March 5, which advanced the Wolves to the next round.
Policy review for board members
A review of several policies for board members took place, discussing conflict of interest situations, a code of conduct, and guidelines for social media communications. The group mostly focused on the third point, noting that while they do have a Facebook page and a Twitter account, both are used sparingly.
“Social media tends to devolve very quickly into these back and forth discussions in the comments,” board member Bridget Burkhardt said. “It takes a lot to monitor that and keep up with it; it’s just not what we envision for ourselves as board members.”
Instead, she said social media outlets are used to announce upcoming events and when followers do have questions, board members are encouraged to direct them to the appropriate party.
Master Planning: Tentative dates set for presenting Phase II options
The Dore and Whittier Architects are tentatively scheduled to present the eight configuration options for Phase II work to the board on March 20. This presentation eliminates the cost factor, so that the focus is solely on the educational value of each option. From there, they hope to reconvene the community visioning group on March 26 to present the options including costs. Lastly, a broader community meeting would take place on April 11 to roll out all the options, with costs, to the wider public. A representative from Dore and Whittier would attend the board’s March 27 work session to help them prepare for the April event. The dates are tentative, pending locations and availability.
The next school board meeting is on Wednesday, March 20 at Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School Library at 7 p.m.