News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, September 19, 2013
Sedgwick school drinking water problem continues

by Jessica Brophy

A problem which began near the end of the school year at Sedgwick Elementary School has not yet been resolved, principal Don Buckingham said at the monthly school board meeting on Tuesday, September 17.

The level of arsenic in one of the school’s wells tested slightly above acceptable levels last spring. The school used bottled water the last few days of school for drinking. Over the summer, there was an attempt to dilute the “bad” well with the “good” well, to bring the arsenic level below the state’s standard for safe drinking water.

At the school board meeting, Buckingham said that option did not work. Bottled water is in use for drinking water. Dave Pelletier, facilities manager for CSD 13, has been tapped to help with the problem. An $8,000 fix has been identified, at the same time a new state grant program was announced to allow municipalities and municipal organizations such as schools apply to fund projects under $10,000. Buckingham said it’s likely the school will receive the grant.

In other business, Buckingham said he had done some preliminary research into the potential costs of putting a security system into the school. The security system would include a front door video surveillance and buzzer system, as well as a way to tap into that video feed from various computers in the school, for those teachers who might be working after hours or alone on the weekends. There would also be a panic button installed to notify the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office in case of emergency.

Buckingham said the initial estimate would be $5,000. He asked whether the board wanted him to continue to seek other quotes and options.

“What I’ve been hearing from the community is that they want this,” said school board member Ashley Pesek. The board gave informal approval for Buckingham to pursue the project.

The board also approved the hire of soccer coach Peter Dauk and Athletic Director Heidi Gillen.

Superintendent Mark Jenkins told the board that there would likely be a surcharge for each student attending George Stevens Academy of $100 to $150, on top of the tuition cost, to offset the cost to private and charter schools for the decrease in state funding of teacher retirement. Last year, the tuition rate for GSA was $9,373, with an additional fee of $58 per student. This year’s rate will be set in November.

Sedgwick school board

Next meeting: Tuesday, October 15

Time and location: 6 p.m., elementary school