Medford, Ore. — Tens of thousands of dollars have gone into Medford schools this summer, to ensure children have safe drinking water this school year. At a board meeting Monday night, a presentation outlined the steps taken, after two schools tested positive for high levels of lead.
The district had budgeted $10,000 for the testing, but they actually spent nearly $45,000 to make sure their schools are lead-free this year. Students NBC5 News spoke to are grateful for the work put in.
“It made me nervous that there was a problem, but it definitely helped with the fact that they addressed that very very quickly, and it makes me feel safe in my own school,” Steven Richmond said, a student at South Medford. “Actually they just installed two new ones that allow you to fill your water bottle up.”
The School District began lead testing in August.
“Based on some recent events, up in Portland and some other parts of the country where lead was found kind of wide spread cases, we decided to up our game and basically test every single fixture for consumption in every single school,” Natalie Hurd said, a spokeswoman for the district.
Surprisingly, the two newly remodeled elementary schools, Roosevelt and Jackson, both had elevated lead levels. Seventy-three to eighty percent of the fixtures tested were above the standards.
“We shut off the water right away and we provided bottled water,” Hurd said.
Nearly every fixture was replaced in the two schools, along with a few others on different campuses.
“Maybe even some that we didn’t really need to, we just wanted to err on the side of caution,” Hurd said.
Those replacements, plumbing, and testing added up to the nearly $45,000 total. That money came from the general fund, however the School District is hoping to get some of it back.
“The Oregon School Board Association may be asking the Legislature to provide some of that funding for districts,” Hurd noted.
The Medford School District has until October first to submit a report on lead testing to the Oregon School Board. They’re also planning to continue the discussion on how they will stay up to date with lead testing in upcoming board meetings.
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