NewsPolitical

Actions

Is Michigan doing enough to protect school children from lead?

Posted: 6:17 PM, Nov 27, 2018
Updated: 2019-10-23 22:22:04-04

Does your child’s school have lead in its drinking water?  It is possible, if not likely, that no one knows the answer.  

One state program aims to help change that.

It is called the Michigan Water Training Program. Through the program, the state is offering to train schools how to set up a plan to test the water and how to collect samples for accurate tests.

Participation is voluntary. Schools interested in joining the program should contact Holly Gohlke at 989-705-3422 or gohlkeh@michigan.gov

The program will conclude Sept. 30, 2019.

“We want to give them the tools so schools can do some of this on their own,” said Gohlke.

Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Janice Swift says she is glad to see support. 

It is support her district could have used when it started creating a plan two years ago to protect children from lead poisoning.  It took time to find out what the most recent science called for.

“Lead drinking water or lead in a child’s environment anyway, they’re so significant,” said Swift.  “It causes permanent damage.”

Her district is testing every faucet and one percent of the time is finding fixtures need to be replaced to protect children.  

With the problem being real, many may ask why every school district isn’t already testing the water?

“It is not cheap,” said Swift.  “It is expensive.”

We asked lawmakers why they aren’t funding fixture repairs and found out they are - kind of. 

State lawmakers designated more than $4 million to do just that, but many schools didn’t use it.

The reason? Lawmakers only allowed $950 per school.

Critics say schools realized that the costs could be thousands to address problems if found.  The $950 in assistance was not enough to risk looking into something that could lead to costs in the tens of thousands of dollars or more.

“I  think the $950 cap is really problematic,” said Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo.  “And anything you are going to get into in removing and replacing fixtures is going to go beyond $950 per school building.”

Gay-Dagnogo says she has introduced House Bill 6363, which would require schools test for lead in water.  She says she wants to require a fix and fund a fix.  She says that $950 limit needs to be removed so this effort to protect children is funded.

You can read her bill at http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(a1tmsoxo5ewnwpujjm5qrjbe))/mileg.aspx?page=GetObject&objectname=2018-HB-6363 . If you have an opinion on whether this should become law, contact your legislators.