Cocalico School District addresses lead levels in water sources

By on March 20, 2019

Cocalico School District continues to address elevated lead levels in several water sources at Reamstown Elementary School and Cocalico High School.

None of the seven sources are used by students, and some are no longer used at all, according to a presentation made by Kurt Eckenroad, director of buildings and grounds, at a school board meeting on March 18.

Dozens of samples have been taken from all five school buildings in the district, part of an effort to comply with a new law urging all public schools to test for lead during the 2018-19 school year.
All results from Denver Elementary and Cocalico Middle schools came back within acceptable levels, defined as .015 parts per billion in drinking water by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Drinking water sources frequented by students at Reamstown and Cocalico High also came back clean. The problem areas were centered in the high school kitchen and the kitchen and the instrumental music room at Reamstown.

Parents were notified of the findings in a letter sent home March 11, after remediation efforts had already begun.

“The guidelines are to flush it,” Eckenroad explained to the board. “It could be something as simple as sediment.”

The district hired a water consultant and flushed all seven sites. Afterward four of the seven sites saw their lead levels fall below the watermark. But a high school cold brew machine and coffee urn still had elevated levels of .079 and .053 respectively. At Reamstown, a water faucet that Eckenroad said was used “once a year” to clean instruments had a level of .037.

“These are primarily areas that used very, very little,” Eckenroad said.

All fixtures and fittings were replaced in those three water outlets, and results from a new set of tests are expected back on March 21.
Initial test results from Adamstown Elementary School are still pending.

In other action Monday, the board:
• Agreed to hire AEM Architects on an as-needed basis to manage ongoing construction projects at the district’s service center and the middle school. The district will pay AEM an estimated $6,000 to $7,000 a month over an eight-month period for observation and administrative responsibilities. In other cases, explained Business Manager Sherri Stull, the district has hired a firm in addition to its architect to handle such tasks. But this arrangement is similar to one used when the high school replaced its athletic fields; Stull expects it will save the district money.

• Approved the purchase of textbooks and classroom materials for two new Advanced Placement courses. Students in AP U.S. Government and Politics will use American Government: Roots and Reform, co-authored by University of Virginia professor and media commentator Larry Sabato. The district will pay about $3,800 for 25 copies and a five-year subscription to online resources. The district also will spend about $2,000 for materials for AP German, which does not require a traditional textbook. Students will instead rely on a mix of short stories, audio and video materials that promote conversational usage.

• Learned that the district had received an additional $9,000 in federal funding for its Title I and Title II programs. Title I supports reading and mathematics instruction in high-poverty districts. Title II is intended to improve teacher quality. Nathan Van Deusen, assistant to the superintendent for elementary education, said the mid-year adjustments would be used to help fund salaries.

Kimberly Marselas is a correspondent for The Ephrata Review.

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