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School Board joins calls for Air National Guard to reconsider F-35s at Truax

School Board joins calls for Air National Guard to reconsider F-35s at Truax

F35 File 01-09122019143123 (copy)

At least 18 of the Air Force's F-35s are expected to be stationed at Truax Field in Madison. 

The Madison School Board has added itself to the push against new F-35 fighter jets stationed at Truax Field in Madison.

Board members adopted a resolution Monday requesting the Air National Guard reconsider Truax Field as a preferred location for the aircraft based on negative effects on the schools closest to the airfield identified in the draft environmental impact study (EIS).

The resolution, which was read into the record but not voted on, came less than a week after the Madison City Council passed a similar resolution asking the Air National Guard to reconsider the placement. That approval required a debate into the early morning hours by alders.

The School Board’s resolution came with much less controversy, and pointed out that three of its elementary schools that “are situated immediately outside” the 65 decibel noise contour the EIS covers — Lake View, Hawthorne and Sandburg, two of which are not mentioned in the report.

“Seventy-three percent of students attending these schools were students of color, 42 percent were English language learners, and 72 percent were considered low-income,” the resolution states. “The draft EIS states that increased noise levels resulting from the proposed action may interrupt speech and hinder the ability of students to learn and, contrary to the District’s commitment to Black excellence and racial equity, constitute an adverse impact on children, including low-income and minority children.”

The board did not take a vote on the resolution but had worked on the language outside of the meeting and it was adopted by being read into the record. Board president Gloria Reyes credited members Cris Carusi and Savion Castro with leading the effort.

"I feel like this is really important for us to be saying," Carusi said.

According to the draft EIS, there are currently an average of three speech-interfering events at Lake View Elementary School per day totaling one minute per day with the aircraft already stationed at the airfield. The study reports that the school would experience a slight decrease in the decibel level of these events with the F-35s, but would add one “interfering event” — with decibel levels about 50 — per average hour, bringing it to three minutes above that threshold on an average day.

“The causation of speech interference at schools with increased noise levels may hinder the ability of students (including low-income and minority students) to learn, which would constitute an adverse impact to children to include low-income and minority children,” the draft states.

Elsewhere, the EIS acknowledged “significant disproportionate impacts to low-income and minority populations as well as children,” something also called out in the board’s resolution.

The resolution warns of the cost to soundproof the three affected schools if the jets are located here and the effect on property values of homes within the 65 decibel noise contour, which could have an impact on the district’s tax base.

“The MMSD Board of Education concludes that the issues identified in the draft EIS will negatively impact learning in our schools, reduce the property tax base, decrease school enrollment in the affected area, and disproportionately affect children and families of color and people with low incomes,” the resolution states.

Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to tctvoice@madison.com. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.

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