An issue of student safety, not a political issue
Apr 24, 2014 | 3208 views | 7 7 comments | 65 65 recommendations | email to a friend | print
To the Editor,

As a taxpayer and former school board member, I have concerns with a recent vote taken by our school board.

Just over a year ago the board authorized applying a window safety tint throughout the school that serves many positive purposes. For safety, the tint would not allow anyone to see in through the windows and windows would not shatter if broken. It would also keep heat in / cold out in the winter and cool in / heat out in the summer for energy efficiency benefits. Several rooms on the front side of the building, at special times of the year would have to put cardboard in the windows and often shuffle seating in the classroom due to the glaring sun and intense heat generated by the windows.This was all resolved for less than a $700 investment.

Recently, a handful of parents, and two board members, felt the tint should be removed as it hindered students’ abilities to learn as it did not allow the benefit of all natural sunlight into the rooms. They also claimed it created a bad health situation as students got headaches and missed school.

When the issue was being discussed at their April 14 meeting, the board was asked what type research they had that would substantiate a change and how would they ensure safety was maintained. After repeatedly avoiding the question, it was finally said “research indicates students will learn better if they can see a squirrel go up and down a tree!!” That was it for the justification? They later added they would install a curtain that could be open and closed as needed. When asked who would be the sacrificial lamb asked to get up and close the curtain if an intruder was standing at the window, they had no reply, and acted as though that could never happen. The most important thing was to just get that vote over and done with and get on to something else.

I took it upon myself to investigate the savings on fuel oil for the past winter. I asked numerous people to approximate how much more they spent this winter than a normal winter for heating. The range was anywhere from 33% to 60% more (my personal increase was 50%). I then called the fuel supplier and found out where the school stood for the year. The tanks were filled on April 16 and there was still 150 gallons left on the prebuy which translates into only using 97.5% of the allottment. (Hmmmm, everyone used 33%-60% more except the school used 2.5% less ). No doubt this was the direct result of the tint’s insulating qualities.

Attendance at the school was as average as any other year, (thus dispelling any health issue claims), the NECAP scores showed improvements (obviously there was no negative impact on learning,)and most likely the tint saved the taxpayers between $8,000 to $12,000 in extra heating bills

When I questioned this in an email, I was told “the vote’s over, move on.”

To summarize, the school board, against the advice and recommendations of its superintendant, took a major step backwards in its safety program for its students and also showed no consideration for the taxpayers by refusing to recognize the fuel oil savings, that will now be lost, in its discussion.

Why would something that was so obviously effective for both safety and energy efficiency reasons, be thrown aside without more justification than “the squirrel going up and down a tree” findings?

Then it finally hit me. This vote was not done with educational or taxpayer’s considerations in mind at all. It was politically-motivated as a reward for a handful of people for prior political support.

It’s unfortunate that the safety of the students is jeopardized because the board looked at this as a political issue rather than one of student safety.

Larry Hopkins

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Betty Boop
May 12, 2014
Gonna be a bad NECAP year cause there aint no squirrels around as they are all in Tommys freezer
Nick Zammuto
May 03, 2014
Larry, you watch too much FOX News. There is no 'left wing' conspiracy here, just a lot of concerned staff and parents from across the political spectrum who voted you out of office because of the terrible decisions you made on behalf of our children.

You, along with former Principal Michael Heller, (who was hired on your watch and resigned under allegations of embezzling thousands of dollars in school money) did everything you could to make our school look and feel like a prison. The fact that thousands of dollars went missing because of Heller was curiously omitted from your budget report at town meeting. Your lack of oversight as board chair allowed him to deposit grant money into a personal account which he apparently used for hotels and dunkin' donuts. Furthermore the staff morale at school suffered greatly under Heller's and your short reign.

You can't fault the people of our town for demanding change.

clarence doolittle
May 03, 2014

1st responders have keys to the school and a fire panel to denote location. You could see a fire through the tint and the windows would shatter if a firemans axe was used to smash them in that manner. I also believe it was said that shadows can be seen if up close?

Use common sense, just imagine those bricks ablaze. Have you ever seen bricks burn?

Your argument has more holes than Swiss Cheese.

Nick Zammuto
May 03, 2014
Schools are filled with books and paper which burn well last time I checked. You're really saying schools can't burn? Look what happened in Rowe.

Also, couldn't a derranged gunman just as easily use tinted windows as cover, to his advantage. A swap sniper couldn't get a shot in if they couldn't see him. It seems there are just as many security scenarios where they would hurt rather than help.

Nick Zammuto
May 02, 2014
Larry, your argument makes no sense.

Wouldn't a first responder want to be able to see into a building that had an emergency. Imagine a child screaming for help in a burning school building but the firefighter can't reach them in time because they can't see her or break the windows because they are shatterproof?

These window films were a danger to the safety and well-being of students and we applaud the new school board for reversing the bad decision you made while you were school board chair.
clarence doolittle
April 28, 2014
Good points.

I am not sure what ex-parte communications means, but if you mean behind the scenes , cut and dried pre-determined decisions without discussion openly, then I would agree. This decision was made before the ballots were counted.

Maybe it is better if the State of Vermont made Readsboro's decisions for them? I doubt they would have made this one?

What's next?

Teachers on the Board of Education only equals trouble.
Wayne Andrews
April 28, 2014
In the absence of any valid answer from any governing body one can only assume some ex-parte communication took place between these school directors.

Its decisions like this is what make H.883 thrive and minimize local control.

For a small town like Readsboro to throw money away like this is foolish when there appears to be no measurable gain from this self motivated decision.

Small baby steps to State control of your schools.

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