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Balloon Release Banned

Thu, 06/13/2019 - 12:14

In what may be a first for a school district in New York State, the Amagansett School Board voted on Tuesday to ban the intentional release of helium balloons on school property.

Seth Turner, the school superinten- dent, said this week that the goal was to have a positive impact on the environment. He said the idea came from Dawn Rana-Brophy, vice president of the school board, after she took part in a recent community beach cleanup.

“We all agree that balloons are fun, but it is incumbent on us to be good stewards of the earth,” Mr. Turner said in an email. “Put simply, we can think of other methods to celebrate an event. I encourage other schools to consider taking action similar to this as a method for teaching children to be responsible for their environment and thoughtful of how their actions can impact others. Though an outright ban of balloons may not work in other schools, at a minimum they can agree to not release them into the atmosphere. It’s a simple step that can make our world a better place.”

The resolution, which the school board unanimously approved on Tuesday, prohibits latex, foil, and Mylar balloon releases “on school property and at school activities, memorials, and fund-raisers.” It notes that helium is a finite resource and that the federal Fish and Wildlife Service has cautioned against balloon releases, which pose a threat to animals on both land and sea.

The resolution also directs Mr. Turner to develop a curriculum to educate students on the “harmful effects that balloons can have and best methods for disposing of balloons in a responsible and environmentally friendly fashion.”

Al Marlin, a representative of the New York State School Boards Association, said in an email yesterday that the organization has not heard of any other schools in the state adopting such a resolution. “That does not mean this might not have happened before,” he said. “Rather, it simply means that we have no knowledge of such instances occurring.”

When Mr. Turner reported the draft policy to the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee on Monday night, it was met with applause by the members.

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