Letters to the Editor1/15/09

Jan. 15, 2009

Prepare for cold and flu season

My name is Max Palmer and for my eighth grade challenge I’m doing proper handwashing technique. Around this time of year cold and flu season starts; one important way to make sure you and other people don’t get sick is to wash your hands. Germs can spread very quickly and easily through touch. If you wash your hands properly, you can prevent germs from spreading and infecting others.

When to wash your hands:

•    Before you eat and prepare meals.

•    After playing with pets or cleaning their cages and messes.

•    As soon as you come home from any public places.

•    When your hands are visibly dirty.

•    After sneezing or coughing into your hands or blowing your nose.

•    Before visiting someone in the hospital and after you leave.

•    After you use the bathroom.

How to properly wash your hands:

1. Wet hands with running water and apply a small amount of soap.

2. Rub hands for at least 15 seconds, covering all surfaces of the hands and fingers. Rinse well under running water.

3. Dry hands thoroughly and turn off faucet with towel.

For sanitizing: First apply alcohol-based sanitizer, then rub thoroughly throughout hand; keep rubbing until hands are dry.

I hope these tips will help you stay healthy and germ free. Spread these tips — not germs — with friends and family.

Max Palmer



Upcoming forum on school configuration

Please come to the second Community Forum at Williston Central School’s cafeteria on Feb. 9 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and be heard!

The Conceptual Frameworks Committee has narrowed the choices of possible building configurations for Williston School District from four to two. We need to hear your thoughts about specific grade span and grouping options within those two building options.

One option places kindergarten through third grade at Allen Brook School, and grades pre-K and four through eight at Williston Central School. The other option keeps the current grades in the two buildings, and focuses on developing different grade span and grade groupings within those buildings.

Your feedback will be used to help guide the committee in its development of configuration recommendations for the school board.

Beginning Jan. 27, you will be able to go to the district’s Web site (www.williston.k12.vt.us), click “Conceptual Frameworks Committee,” “Notes and updates from the meetings,” and “Specific Configuration Options” to see the options on which you will be providing feedback at the community forum.

Under “Notes and updates from the meetings,” you can also find out what the committee has been up to the past two months by clicking on “Conceptual Frameworks Committee Update 1-12-09.”

This is the second of two opportunities to let the committee know what’s important to you as family and community members about the configuration of Williston schools. The committee needs to hear from you!

Please plan to attend and encourage your friends and neighbors to come as well. Childcare and light snacks will be provided.

We hope to see you there!

The Conceptual Frameworks Committee

Williston School Board and Administration

Mary Jane Shelley, facilitator


Cut assistants, not teachers

In last week’s article about school budget cuts (“School budget to include cutbacks”), the Observer reported, based on what Walter Nardelli, district principal, had told the Williston School Board, “The most likely reductions would be in the form of a teaching assistant, a paraeducator, and a classroom teacher.”

I was appalled when I read this. Is Mr. Nardelli actually suggesting that the district get rid of a CREDENTIALED educator in order to keep teaching assistants? I fully agree with board member Holly Rouelle, who was quoted as saying, “I’d rather see three teaching assistants go rather than one classroom teacher.”

I personally think that all the teaching assistant positions should be cut. If each teaching assistant salary (plus benefits) totals $25,000, then if we cut all 18 positions, that would be a savings of $450,000. The board would have to look no further for cuts.

Most of the teaching assistants spend their time Xeroxing, filing, e-mailing and doing other daily paperwork. I work as a teacher in South Burlington, and I am responsible myself for all of those tasks, as we do not have any teaching assistants. If Mr. Nardelli is so concerned about lunch and recess duty, then retain two of the 18 assistants to act as noon duty aides.

As the board members make their final decisions regarding next year’s budget, please let them know how you feel regarding this issue. A school district should never get rid of a trained, credentialed educator in lieu of support staff. Besides, eliminating a teacher would result in increased class size.

Although it’s nice to have support staff, their positions should be cut. In this economic climate, they are a luxury we simply can no longer afford!

Abby Klein



Nordic auction

The Champlain Valley Union High Nordic Ski Team extends its thanks and gratitude to the many local merchants who provided in-kind donations for our 2008-2009 silent auction. Our team of over 65 skiers (covering all ability levels) will use the auction proceeds to purchase team waxes and waxing equipment.

Thanks to the generosity of the many local businesses and restaurants, and to those who purchased items, the auction was a big success and will benefit scores of CVU Nordic ski racers throughout the season!

The CVU Nordic ski team


Credit card living

Freewheeling mortgage spending steadily pumped up by Federal Guarantees caused a bubble that recently burst with a huge bang. With an economic slowdown caused by trillions of dollars in reckless spending, we are looking to the same folks that caused this economic train wreck to fix it. This is sort of like asking the arsonist to help with your little fire problem.

So far, the tendered solution to economic slowdown has been more borrowing to fix spending shortfalls, many of which are yet to even be identified. Such actions will not cure the current economic downturn. If anything these policies will prolong and deepen it, just like the New Deal did for FDR back in the 1930s during the Great Depression.

The state of Vermont is considering embracing this same credit card living strategy the federal government is perusing. Ask yourself, if your pay didn’t cover your expenses, would you look into getting more credit to cover the shortfall as a long-range financial strategy?

More borrowing will be just about as effective as shoveling water to make one end of the pool deeper. You can move plenty of water but the level isn’t going to change.

Shelley Palmer



Beliefs, facts and truth

Spencer Wright, in his letter of Jan. 8 (“Religion and history (and science)”), writes, “Belief is not the same thing as a fact.”

This is true in one sense, since “fact” identifies a proposition widely regarded as true, while “belief” is used mainly to denote a proposition whose truth is widely contested. Wright ignores, however, the overarching similarity between them, which must not be forgotten: They both concern matters of truth, and not matters of preference or taste. One’s taste is based on emotional, temperamental and cultural dispositions and conditionings, but truth is based on objective reality (thanks to Mortimer J. Adler in his book “Six Great Ideas” for this distinction). Beliefs, then, founded as they are on reality, are a matter of truth. Thus, while some “will agree … and some will disagree,” (as Kayla Purvis wrote in her Dec. 24 Visions of Youth column, which Wright quoted) we cannot agree to disagree, since belief concerns reality and truth.

Wright is also correct in saying that “Scientific inquiry welcomes different viewpoints,” because there is a conception of a universal science advancing steadily towards scientific truths. When he writes, however, that religious belief prefers the avoidance of different viewpoints, that is not quite true. Only erroneous or illogical systems of beliefs shun differing viewpoints, just as illogical scientific schools of thought do.

Also, the individual scientist and the honest religious person share this in common: Their goal is truth, and new discoveries are threatening to neither.

Lastly, by writing that religions need to avoid different viewpoints, it suggests that religion is completely arbitrary, and that reason, truth and argument have no connection with it. Many religions, however, rely on historical, anthropological and philosophic facts to provide a reasonable basis for belief. In all, it is clear that belief is founded in reality just as fact is, and thus is either true or false. Also, the honest believer supports his beliefs by argument and reason, and like the good scientist, is open to correction in order to find the truth.

Matthew Rensch