All but five of 52 schools in the Rochester City School District have lead paint, but school board members unanimously passed a new policy that will get rid of lead in schools on a regular basis.
“This is the Rochester City School Board stepping up to the plate just as the city council did to make sure Rochester will be lead free by 2010,” said Derrick Hazle, the executive director of The Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning.
In July of 2006, the Rochester City Council said "no" to lead in homes. Now city schools are taking action.
“This policy says we're going to be aggressive about monitoring the condition of our schools,” said Tim Mains, a former councilman and now the principal at School No. 50 in the city.
With the help of the Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning, school leaders have developed a policy they say is the first of its kind in the state and possibly around the country. Schools in the district will now be checked regularly for lead.
“We have a process of monitoring drinking fountains because you don't want lead pipes that connect them to have any problems or to have fixtures to have any problems,” Mains said.
The school district will be training its custodians to recognize those lead problems in the schools where they work. It’s all in an effort to create a pro-active policy to draw attention to sore spots before students are exposed.
“If there is a lead hazard found,” said Hazle, “it's going to be fixed by an EPA-certified firm and parents will be notified immediately.”
The cost to clean up the lead will be determined on a case-by-case basis. School officials say most of the money will come from the Facilities Modernization Initiative Funding, a grant coming from the state.