We are parents. We work in these buildings. We send our children to these schools. Above all else, the safety of our students and our staff has always been and will always be our first priority. It is a trust we do not take lightly. There is no way we would knowingly leave a potential safety risk to our students and staff uncorrected.
The water testing that our district began in the summer of 2016 was a new and untested process for us as a district. Every step of the way, we have worked in tandem with water quality experts to obtain samples, review the data and implement best practices. This entire program has required learning and adjustments as we go since there are no requirements for school districts to test for lead and there are no standards in place for school districts.
The building that used to be home to Tusculum Elementary (now the McMurray Middle Annex) was tested using two industry sampling methods: first draw, when a sample is obtained immediately after turning on the faucet, and flush sampling, a method that obtains a sample after running the water for 30 seconds. Two samples, from a total of 51 taken in 2016, had an elevated reading. Both locations were retested, using both the first draw and the flush methods. Typically, lead levels from flush samples more accurately replicate water during typical building usage. Therefore, these readings were believed to be the most appropriate measure to use to determine lead levels. Flush levels were below the EPA standard and the school was cleared with no further action needed.
As we reviewed Phase 1 of our testing program at the end of the school year, we decided to audit all Phase I testing. With knowledge learned during the past year, our maintenance staff determined we should base our action on first draw samples as opposed to flush samples. As a result, those two sources within the previous Tusculum Elementary (now the McMurray Middle Annex) were disconnected in June of 2017, along with other locations in other buildings.
There is nothing we value more than the safety and well-being of our students and staff. We would never knowingly allowed any drinking water source to remain online if it had elevated levels of lead based on the testing protocol.