Local Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, February 06, 2002

Helicopter enviro study delayed

JUNEAU - A document that will help set the number of helicopter landings on Juneau Icefield for the next five years has been delayed.

Juneau District Ranger Pete Griffin said the final environmental impact statement for Juneau Icefield helicopter landings should come out sometime in early April. Earlier, the Forest Service had expected to release the report in late January or early February.

Ellen Hall, project manager for Foster Wheeler Environmental, which is working with the Forest Service, said it has taken time to review more than 1,000 individual comments about the landing proposals. "We are not adding a whole lot of additional material to the EIS. There's some additional material. Mostly, it has been responding to comments," she said.

Specifically, the Forest Service has added more information about the impact of noise on Juneau residents and recreationists, air quality, flight safety and what level of activity is appropriate in certain areas, Hall said.

"Plus, we added additional information for the year 2000 and 2001," she said.

Alternatives under consideration range from decreasing the number of authorized helicopter landings on the icefield from 19,039 to 11,881 or increasing them to 30,662 in five years.

School Board OKs next year's calendar

JUNEAU - The Juneau School Board approved next year's school calendar at its Tuesday meeting.

The board voted 5-1 in favor of the calendar, which sets the first day of school on Aug. 28 and the last day of school on June 4. Alan Schorr cast the dissenting vote; Deana Darnall was not in attendance.

The last day of school before winter break is Dec. 20, with school resuming on Jan. 6, 2003. Spring break will be March 24-28, 2003.

Schorr expressed concerns about the schedule's elementary parent-teacher conference dates, which included one full day and two half-days. Schorr questioned why the conferences were not combined into two full days to maximize the number of full instructional days for students.

Superintendent Gary Bader said the schedule was a compromise. He said many teachers preferred all half-days for conferences in order to spread out the conference load.

Board may revise policy on reporting crime

JUNEAU - The Juneau School Board discussed on Tuesday a proposed revision to district policies that would place greater reporting requirements on staff members who see students committing crimes.

The revision would "require school personnel who, in the course of their employment, witness students committing crimes to report the crime to the school administrator as well as to the appropriate law enforcement agency."

Board Vice-president Chuck Cohen expressed reservations about the revised policy's effect on school staff's ability to deal with minor incidents.

"My concern is that it removes the discretion of teachers and administrators ... of reporting what might be classified as 'petty crimes' that could be handled in the building," he said. "To me it compels the beginning of a process we may not always want to begin."

Cohen suggested including a more precise definition of the kinds of crimes that teachers and administrators are required to report.

The board will revisit the issue at its Feb. 19 meeting.

Students present petition against split lunch

JUNEAU - A group of Juneau-Douglas High School students attended Tuesday's meeting of the Juneau School Board to express concern about plans to split the school's lunch period during renovations that begin next school year.

Weston Eiler, JDHS student body parliamentarian, presented board members with petitions bearing the signatures of more than 350 students and 27 staff members opposed to the schedule change.

School officials have said splitting the lunch over two periods is necessary during renovations because the existing Mac's Cache food service will be moved to more cramped quarters in the Marie Drake gym, thus limiting the number of students it can serve in a single period. A majority of teachers on a committee examining the schedule issue approved a new, split-lunch schedule in December.

Students argue that splitting the lunch will eliminate an important meeting time for students and teachers, and have protested that they were not adequately included in the decision-making process.

The issue is still being discussed before the high school site council.

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