MCPS Considering Installing Water-Bottle Filling Stations at All Schools

School board member’s recommendation follows August reveal of elevated lead levels in 86 schools

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Montgomery County Board of Education member Jill Ortman-Fouse has introduced a resolution that, if approved by the board, would allow the county school district to install water-bottle filling stations at all 206 schools.

Ortman-Fouse introduced the resolution last week at the school board’s first work session about Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith’s proposed fiscal 2020 capital budget and amendments to the 2019-2024 capital improvement plan.

The proposal, slated to cost about $1.1 million to install an average of two filling stations in each school, comes in response to an August countywide review of school water that found elevated lead levels in 86 schools. More than 150 of the 238 outlets with elevated lead levels had been accessible to students.

Currently, 24 elementary schools, 14 middle schools and 15 high schools are equipped with the fillers that were purchased either as part of new construction or with Parent-Teacher Association funds.

“This situation raises issues of equity for schools throughout the district that do not have such resources,” Ortman-Fouse wrote in a memo introducing her resolution.

Ortman-Fouse will vacate her school board seat at the end of her term after being defeated in the June primary for an open At-Large County Council seat.

The filling stations use filters that remove contaminants such as chlorine and lead and eliminate waste from using plastic water bottles, proponents say.

The school board is expected to vote on the resolution at its Nov. 29 meeting. If approved, the resolution would move to the Montgomery County Council for consideration to add the necessary funds to the proposed fiscal 2020 capital budget and 2019-2024 CIP.

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