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School budget planning begins

CORNWALL — The Board of Education is expecting a relatively quiet budget planning season. A workshop has been scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 4 p.m. (the public is always invited to all board meetings) and details will no doubt be reviewed at the regular Feb. 21 meeting. A draft proposal for a 2012-13 spending plan for Cornwall Consolidated School (CCS) is due to be presented to the Board of Finance March 8. Principal Michael Croft said at the Jan. 17 Board of Education meeting he has two budgeting priorities for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.He wants to increase the use of technology, in particular, moving toward providing a “device” for every student in middle school. The board has already discussed his proposal to add more interactive whiteboards; two are currently in use at CCS.Croft also wants to create a funding plan to finish the ongoing insulation installation in various parts of the building. The Standing Building Committee has been working on several projects. Insulation was added in ceilings and walls to replace what was damaged by water leaks, and where a need was identified.Croft said the school has been using less heating fuel than normal and gave the new insulation partial credit for that.“Some of that has to do with the warm winter,” he said. “But I’m sure the new insulation helps, along with some creative conservation by [Custodian] Pete Selino.”Radiation fears for CCSLater in the meeting, board member Phil Hart passed along concerns by a letter writer he declined to name regarding the atmosphere of radio frequency (RF) created at the school by technology such as cell phones and wireless Internet access. He described the writer as very concerned about the potential health hazards for children.Hart said he shares some of the same concerns.“We know it’s an issue because the federal government places limits on radiation fields,” he said. He referred to the 1996 Telecommunications Act that ruled in part that towns and states cannot consider possible health issues when it comes to approving cell tower locations, as long as established limits are met. “If you look at all the number of health problems people have now, including kids, it’s very easy to wonder if it’s related.”Hart asked that the issue be kept open for discussion as more technology is considered for the school.Board members agreed to seek more information about the potential hazards and ways to measure RF fields at the school.

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