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State considers tweaking rules so schools wanting to test water for lead can get more money

Sep 18, 2017

There’s still a lot of money on the table for Michigan schools that wish to test their drinking water for lead. Far fewer school districts have taken advantage of the grant program than the state expected. So the state is trying to tweak the lead testing program so more schools could or would apply for the money.

Schools are not required to test for lead in water. But after the Flint water crisis, many did. In fact, some tested so early, they don’t qualify to get reimbursed by the state. That’s something Kyle Guerrant, deputy superintendent at Michigan’s Department of Education, says they’re considering changing.

Guerrant says another hurdle may be that each school building can only get $950.

“We think that was a barrier for school districts not wanting to apply is because it’s just not enough dollars to make it worthwhile,” he said.

Guerrant says they’ve talked about creating a tiered system, where bigger schools, especially high schools, can get more than $950.

“Nobody wants those dollars to go unused. So we want to make it as easy as possible for schools that want to test their water or that may need to purchase filters if they’ve already done testing,” Guerrant said.

So far, the state has distributed less than $200,000 to more than 60 schools. There’s $4 million available.

Michigan is making another effort to tell schools there’s money available to test drinking water for lead.