Can You See in School?
By MADELINE KAUFMAN
Jericho High School has recently installed a new lighting system, resulting in some concerns from numerous students and teachers. The new motion detecting lights are now circuited through a single switch, so teachers can no longer control which rows of lights are on and off. JHS made this change in an effort to be more energy efficient, but consequently, the lights now conflict with viewing the SMART Board. When the lights are on, students find it difficult to see the SMART Board. However, when the lights are off, students have difficulty seeing their work.
Senior Rachel Weissman said, “To be completely honest, I understand why administration would think it was a good idea to install the new lights, but when using the SMART Board the lights need to be off in the room, and it becomes difficult to see my notes. And with the old system with three circuits, you would be able to have half the classroom with the lights on, and you can write, and the other half off so you can look at the SMART Board.”
Many teachers agree that the single switch hinders their teaching methods. Before the school changed circuits, social studies teacher Mr. Scarnati was able to keep two rows of lights on where his students sit and turn off the row of lights in front of the SMART Board, a method he refers to as a “functioning classroom.” Mr. Scarnati believes that the district administration should have considered the impact of the new lights on teaching prior to investing in them, and said, “If it is going to detract from instruction, they should never do it.” Although he does not support the one circuit light switch, he is in favor of the motion detectors and conserving energy.
Italian teacher Ms. Bozzo remains optimistic about the new lights. She is an advocate for saving energy and tax dollars for the school district, but wishes that some teachers had been included in the committee to voice their opinions about the new lighting. Ms. Bozzo described her initial experience with the lights as challenging, but says she was willing to make the necessary adjustments with the windows and blinds. She also believes that as time goes on, many teachers will adjust as well, and their attitudes on the lights will improve.
The Assistant Superintendent for Business Mr. Victor Manuel discussed why the lighting system was installed. He explained that over the past two years, the Board of Education had been discussing more efficient lighting. “The total cost, district-wide, to do the lighting was approximately $900,000. The payback on the new lighting, district-wide, is approximately two-and-a-half to three years. So in that three year period, the energy savings that the district will realize will have paid for the initial cost. After that three year period, the additional savings that we continue to see on a year to year basis will be actual savings for the district on an annual basis.” Mr. Manuel explained that the elementary schools had switched the lights in their classrooms during the summer of 2014, and they have heard positive feedback.
Although the new lights initially caused a distraction in the classrooms, teachers and students are learning how to adjust their instructional methods to create a comfortable and successful environment.