St. Louis Public Schools to abandon 12 lead-contaminated drinking fountains and sinks

A dozen drinking fountains and sinks at 10 St. Louis Public School campuses are so contaminated with lead that they are being removed permanently from service.

Eight drinking fountains also have failed the district’s test for lead for the second or third time, Roger CayCe, the district’s deputy superintendent of operations, said at the district’s special administrative board meeting Thursday.

Those fountains are at Clay Elementary, Fanning Middle, Gateway Middle, Henry Elementary and Meramec Elementary schools, he said.

Meanwhile, three fountains at Beaumont High and one at Northwest Law Academy are awaiting test results.

The fountains and sinks to be removed are at Gallaudet Elementary, Carver Elementary, Nahed Chapman New American Academy, Gateway STEM, Laclede Elementary, Academy of Entrepreneurship Studies Middle, Northwest, Clyde C. Miller Career Academy, Sumner High and Yeatman Middle schools.

Those fountains and sinks were designated to be removed after CayCe’s team tried repeatedly to fix the source of lead contamination, but found the solution either too time-consuming or expensive, he said.

CayCe said that the removal of fountains and sinks is not expected to impact classroom instruction or the ability to provide drinking water at the schools.

The district has been working since August to test and repair 48 fountains and 40 sinks that were identified as having excessive lead levels. The process has taken longer than officials originally hoped.

Of those targeted water sources, 33 fountains and 31 sinks passed the district’s lead testing, but only six fountains have been replaced so far.

“This is one of the most trying assignments he’s given me in my 10 years here,” CayCe said, referring to district Superintendent Kelvin Adams. “Each one has a different story, each one has a different intervention that is needed.”

The district has spent about $290,700 of the $1 million the special administrative board approved in August to take care of the problem, CayCe said.

The district has been using a stricter lead testing standard than required.

Thursday was expected to be the last update to the board about lead testing.

The district has promised to test the fountains and sinks found with high lead levels every year. All others will be tested every three years.