Friday, February 26, 1999
Complaint about high school water bubbles to surface
As future superintendent Ed Mavrages sat in to learn the ropes of his new school system, a troubling issue was brought before the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee on February 9. Concord resident Lee Ann Kay claimed that she heard that the school committee had decided against addressing potentially dangerous levels of lead in the school's drinking water. A pointed question was posed by Kay, who requested that the item be placed on the agenda: "Will lead levels in the water meet state standards in 1999?" School committee chair Cynthia Nock responded,"The school committee is working with the board of health in addressing any issues regarding lead in the water."
In November 1997, CCHS was found to be one of the Concord schools in which the drinking water exceeded the ten parts per billion of lead which the state considered safe according to their standards at the time.
Referring to the letter of concern from Kay, Superintendent Gene Thayer then discussed a letter he had received on March 26, 1998 from Michael Moore of the Concord Board of Health. That letter essentially gave the school a clean bill of health. It stated that the response actions taken indicated that the school committee had, by that time, "made a good faith effort to correct the lead problem; all substances were removed or abated." The sampling program was to be continued on January 28, 1999.
However, some controversy existed over the adequacy of the the tests and the school's response actions. An evaluation of allegations, according to Thayer, showed that "the school system has not violated any laws, and is providing safe drinking water to its students and staff." A letter from legal counsel echoed this sentiment, to put to rest any allegations.
Another round of tests, the results of which will need to comply with newly upgraded state regulations for lead content, were to begin as of February 9, the date of the school committee meeting. The previous March 1998 testing was based on the old regulations. According to Thayer, the state has "differing opinions as to whether drinking water was safe as of that time." All future water tests, however, will be measured against the upgraded state standard of safety.
In response to the initiative taken on the part of the school committee, Kay thanked the committee for the "bold step taken to comply with the new state regulations."
The 1995 and 1998 Concord Town Meetings voted to request that schools provide drinking water that meets state and federal standards.
Student council goals
Student Council member Andy Robichaud addressed the school committee, emphasizing his desire to increase dialogue between the student council and school committee. Internal conversations with the principal and superintendent about student agendas were also on his priority list, as was making the student council function as a voice for the student body. "In the past," said Robichaud, "the student council has been considered a republic." Additional late buses for Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunities (METCO) students were also on Robichaud's wish list. Many METCO students, he maintained, were unable to take advantage of after school programs, late- running athletic practices, and the socialization after early buses are long gone which is when many relationships between students are forged or strengthened. Robichaud was promised that the cost of such buses would be priced out, and the feasibility of adding more buses would be assessed. Both Robichaud and committee members felt that such a goal would do much to serve the original ideals of the METCO program, and be a real opportunity for all students.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito