NEW ROCHELLE, NY — More than twenty percent of drinking fountains and sinks at the George M. Davis Jr Elementary School have tested positive for elevated levels of lead. The test results came more than three weeks after two drinking fountains indicated elevated levels of lead. The elevated lead levels primarily impacted kindergarten and first grade students.
Officials with the City School District of New Rochelle have previously stated that the district has not previously tested the water quality in any school buildings so there is no way to know how long there have been water quality issues at Davis. They may have existed for years.
“Drinking fountains in kindergarten and first grade classrooms located along the main office hallway will remain shut,” said Davis Principal Michael Galland. “The District has initiated further study and testing of pipes located throughout classrooms located along the main office hallway.”
In the letter sent Friday evening, parents were told “a drinking fountain in our library hallway contained levels of lead in the water that slightly exceeded the EPA threshold of 15 parts per billion” In fact, at 47 parts per billion, the level was more than three times the federal EPA threshold of 15 parts per billion.
Initial testing for water quality took place at the end of March. Information about the test results for South End schools, which showed no elevated levels of lead, was made available to the District-Wide Health & Safety Committee on March 30th, the same day as the test results were delivered to the district. The results from the North End schools, delivered to the district on April 5th, which includes the elevated lead levels at Davis School, was withheld from members of the committe until April 20th. The water quality test results from the most recent tests has not been provided to the District-Wide Health & Safety Committee or made public.
Few details were provided about the actual lead levels in the water at Davis School other than that a total of 38 drinking fountains and sinks were tested and that 8 of them indicated elevated levels of lead. The exact amount had not been made public or shared with the committee charged under New York State law with monitoring water quality in public schools.
Galland told parents in his letter that drinking fountains in all Grade 2-5 classrooms and hallways, in the cafeteria and outside of the gym doors, will be reopened as water tests show that water from these fountains is safe.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The author of this article is a member of the District-Wide Health & Safety Committee. He has had made clear in a letter to the committee co-chairs and the administration and board his deep displeasure with the withholding of water quality information from the committee, and that information about the most recent test results was communicated formally to the entire Davis School community without notifying the District-Wide Health & Safety Committee.