At the April 5 meeting of the State Board of Education, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE), in an update on the regulations requiring schools to test drinking water for lead, announced that only 41 school districts or charter schools had applied for reimbursement for the cost of the testing. In addition, six reimbursement requests from private schools for students with disabilities had been filed with NJDOE. The NJDOE has a webpage focused on testing for lead in schools; that page includes a link to the form to be used to file for reimbursement, as well as additional information on the topic.
All schools, public and private, are required to test all drinking water outlets for lead by July 13, 2017. That date is one year from the effective date of the regulations. Districts must make all test results available at the school facility and on the district’s website. If high lead levels are detected, districts and schools must notify NJDOE and parents, must immediately end the use of those drinking water outlets where the lead exceeds safe levels, and must make an alternate source of drinking water available to students and staff. On April 11, NJDOE sent a memo to superintendents, business administrators, charter school lead persons, and other administrators to remind them of the deadlines for testing for lead in schools.
The current year’s state budget includes a $10 million appropriation for school districts that incur lead testing costs after July 13, 2016. There is currently a bill that was approved by both the state Senate and Assembly, A-4284/S-2675. The bill, which would allow for retroactive reimbursement back to Jan. 1, 2016 if the lead testing meets or exceeds the program requirements established by the NJDOE, is awaiting action by the governor.
More Than Half of Districts Have Tested At the State Board meeting, the NJDOE reported that, as of April 3, 62 percent of districts and 52 percent of charter schools had completed testing. There have been 78 schools that have reported high lead levels in water.
NJDOE has filed to readopt the lead testing regulations; a presentation summarizing the proposed amendments to the regulations can be found here.