Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Charles M. Bernardo presented the latest version of his construction and improvements budget to the county board of education this week. This time Woodward High was among the schools slated for work.
When Bernardo first came to the school board with a list of school that needed improvements. Woodward, where a new auditorium had been proposed earlier, was not on the list because it was being considered for closing. The omission evoked protests from school board members and parents.
The current list, which will be the subject of a public hearing Dec. 1, contains 16 school improvement projects and a number of area-wide plans.
What Bernardo called his "modest budget request" would require $6.87 million in state funds and $1.964 million from the county. The total, $8.834 million , is less than the fiscal 1978 request of $14.04 million, of which approximately $9.9 million was frunded.
"No attempt has been made to prejudge decisions regarding the closure of schools," Bernardo wrote in a memo to the board members. "Schools proposed for possible closure or those likely to be involved in the closure process have been retained in the five-year CIP (Capital Improvements Program) until decisions are made."
In other action this week, the board approved a regulation that would limit the volume of sound at school functions - including dances - to 90 decibels in the Arange (DBA).
Louise Colodzin, audiologist for the Montgomery County schools, said that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set 90 DBA as the safe level for an eight-hour period. Sound that is louder than that can cause hearing impairment.
"Ninety is acceptable over a short period, but getting mich higher may be into the dangerous range," she said.
Colodzin said that she tested the noise levels at about 10 school dances and found that at all of them the sound was above 90 DBA and that at some of the dances the sound remained steady at 100 DBA or louder.
An ad hoc committee including parents and an engineer measured sound at Randolph and Frost Junior High dances and said they found the music at all to be at a level dangerous to hearing.
Dan Tobin, as student and president of the Montgomery County Region of the Maryland Association of Student Governments, said that he was pleased that student involvement in the regulation of sound would be urged by the board. The school system will spend about $8,000 for 53 sound meters and 10 calibrators, Mike Bonner, a school system staff aide said.
Tobin also said he thought the concern over sound levels was unnecessary and trivial.
"There's no concrete evidence that this level causes permanent hearing damage," he said. "I think chaperones have enough to do with kids that are stoned at dances than to walk around with sound meters."
The board also voted to oppose a bill in the state legislature that would mandate a minute of silent meditation at the opening of the day in all schools.
"It's an invitation to take it lightly," said one board member.
"I can see those kids in shop class and gym class who have to meditate silently for a minute before they can change their clothes," said board member Darrvl Shaw.