Manchester Board of Education passed a first reading during the December board meeting a policy that will mandate lead testing in the three schools’ drinking water.
The new policy, set to begin test in July, follows state Senate Bill 619 which mandates periodic tests in schools built prior to 1998.
According to Director of School Lee Wilkerson the City Water Department declined to perform the test, citing a conflict of interest.
“They will support us in the planning and identifying a testing facility in Mt. Juliet,” Wilkerson told the board.
“We will take the samples in January, put them on ice for testing. Once we get the report back, it’s our responsibility…on what our next move would be.”
A board report states that the system is in the process of replacing water fountains in the schools with lead-free devices and the appropriate NSF/ANSI 53 filters. And an ongoing project is working to find and replace non-lead free waterlines that may be in the schools.
The Westwood Elementary 2004 addition will not be require testing, but the older section of the school will be tested.
Westwood Middle and College St. Elementary cafeteria are in long term plans to be remodeled.
Newly installed board member Dr. Prater Powell voted to approve the first reading of the policy, with the caveat that he needed more information on the costs involved.
During the December meeting, held in Summitville at Boskey’s Grill, the board approved the selection of architect David Brown or Meridian Architecture.
Brown has drawn up similar remodel plans in years’ past. He has worked with the board since 2009.
Wilkerson and board members told the Times that the system is looking at upgrades to the system.
“We’re looking at upgrades…that are most needed. We find that some of the older buildings need upgrades, especially College St.,” Wilkerson said.
The first step is cost estimates.
Board member Lisa Gregory said that the board is looking at remodels similar to the earlier planned, but not started, improvements.