Balloon releases can be stunningly beautiful and festive. They also can be deadly for wildlife, livestock and outdoor pets.
For that reason, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board is considering a measure to discourage balloon releases on school properties.
The board voted 6-3 Thursday for a resolution that would set a symbolic ban on the release of helium balloons at school functions. The board plans a final vote Dec. 12.
The resolution sets no consequences if balloons are released — thus, the symbolic nature of the proposal — but is meant to show the school system’s disapproval of the practice.
Several states and cities make such releases illegal. There are alternatives that would be safer for animals and avoid creating litter: butterfly releases, floating flowers and biodegradable balloons.
Board member Dawn Collins said she got the idea for the proposal when board watcher James Finney suggested a ban after seeing that balloons were released last year at McKinley High marking the death of a student there. Collins said she wants the school system to provide schools with alternatives to balloon releases.
Board members Mike Gaudet, Tramelle Howard and Evelyn Ware-Jackson voted no, though none of them objected to the substance of the resolution.
Gaudet expressed concern that passing the resolution would put pressure on the board to consider an array of social and environmental issues disconnected or only tangentially connected to education.
“I just don’t want to open up Pandora’s box,” Gaudet said.