Editor's note: This is the second in a series about what area school districts are doing in preparation for mandatory lead testing in some schools.
CARRIER MILLS – On the heels of legislation signed into law Monday, the Carrier Mills-Stonefort school system is preparing to have some school buildings tested for high levels of lead, Superintendent and High School Principal Bryce Jerrell said Wednesday.
Jerrell said the district had been anticipating passage of the legislation.
"This is actually something the school board and I have been discussing since the first of December," he said. "My understanding of then-Senate Bill 550 (now Public Act 099-0922) is that any building built before 1987 would require testing in 2017 for lead in its water. For the Carrier Mills-Stonefort School District, that would mean the high school."
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the the legislation into law Monday, and it is immediately effective. Besides older school buildings, even those built in later years will require testing.
"It also stated that buildings constructed between 1987 and 2000 would require testing in 2018, which is our junior high," Jerrell said. "Also, the bill would allow for the use of Health/Life/Safety funds to help pay for testing and remediation."
The law was passed in part because of concern about water supply safety, following severe water safety issues in Flint, Mich. In that city, though tap water was severely discolored and had strong odors in some instances, city and state officials ignored complaints until testing confirmed the water was not safe to drink. The Illinois law seeks to prevent people, especially children, from lead contamination.
Jerrell said response has been favorable to the new law.
"We will still check the new law to make sure we are doing what we need to this year and next year for our students and community," he said. "I think most superintendents, principals, and taxpayers would agree that mandates like this are very important and help keep our students and communities safe.