Metro Schools is committing to test all drinking fountains for lead prior to the start the fall semester. This is an expansion and acceleration of lead testing that's already underway, which comes after the district has been getting pushback for glossing over potential problems with the water.
Metro school buildings that are more than 60 years old were tested last year, and the results came out late last month. Of nearly 2,900 samples — taken from all kinds of faucets ranging from a locker room shower to an art room sink — 81 had higher lead levels than they were supposed to. The district said that was likely because the tests when buildings were unoccupied for the summer.
Upon retesting in the fall, 28 still failed, and those faucets were taken offline.
“The drinking water in the district’s oldest buildings meet all federal and state lead drinking water standards,” executive director of facilities Dennis Neal said in a statement on June 30.
But NewsChannel 5 pressed Neal and discovered that district officials didn't notify principals that they might have a problem fountain.
Neal now says in a statement that checking drinking water in all buildings is the right thing to do.
“It is something we wanted to do and felt we needed to do,” he said Monday.
A second phase of testing for buildings built before 1988 wasn't supposed to begin until August. Schools that have already been cleared will also be tested again.
The district-wide lead check will cost $187,000.
School districts around the country have been keeping closer tabs on lead levels following the water crisis in Flint, Mich.