GROTON — The Groton-Dunstable Regional School District received good and bad news when director of business and finance Craig Young reported that preliminary state funding figures came in higher than expected, but water quality at the high school isn’t any better.
Speaking about the local aid figures released by legislators at the state house last week, Young said, “I’m very pleased.”
The figures were included in a proposed fiscal year 2007 operating budget for the commonwealth hammered out by state legislators. The proposed budget comes in the wake of the governor’s own version released earlier in the year with a final version not expected until later in the spring.
Young referred to local aid figures in the proposed budget covering Chapter 70 local aid money and Chapter 71 transportation funding, which totaled $375,000.
That amount came in about $40,000 more than Young had estimated when he calculated the district’s own FY2007 operating budget earlier in the year.
As approved by residents at the April 24 Annual Town Meeting, the district’s 2007 budget stands at $32,915,642.
If the House budget proposal is eventually passed, the new bottom line for the district would be $32,956,981.
“It’s a great move in the right direction for us,” concluded Young. “We can feel confident in the support given thus far.”
According to school officials, a final budget figure for the state will not be definitely known until late May or June.
On a different front, Young had less happy news to impart to the School Committee last week, reporting that ongoing efforts to cleanse drinking water at the high school of impurities have proven less than satisfactory. Recent testing shows some improvement but not enough to allow its consumption by students.
School officials have been struggling with the issue of water quality at the $35 million high school complex for the last year and half with the use of a polyphosphate additive. Intended to coat the interior of water pipes, it’s only the latest attempt to identify and solve the contamination problem.
In the summer of 2004, after tests had determined that the school’s water supply was contaminated with dangerous levels of copper and lead, efforts that involved the shut down and flushing out of the school’s water distribution system were swiftly implemented.
Isolation and testing of each component of the system, including a well and pump station, narrowed the focus of investigators to the school’s pumping system. That prompted the use of the additive to coat pipes and prevent brass fittings from reacting with carbon dioxide in the water that experts guessed produced the contamination.
Although the coating method received the blessing of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), it has apparently not done the job.
Young told School Committee members May 3 that yet another round of water testing would occur this week but that hopes were dim that there would be any detectable improvement in quality.
If those fears pan out, Young said he would recommend that the district hire a contractor with knowledge and experience in this specific type of contamination.
Up to the present, the district has been relying on high school project manager Turner Educational Facilities Group and the school’s water system operator Small Water Systems to identify and solve the problem.
Since the problem with the high school’s water quality was identified in the summer of 2004, the district has been trucking in bottled drinking water for use by students and staff, an expense that has so far cost the schools in excess of $6,000.