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St. Lawrence Central water problems spread to middle/high school

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BRASHER FALLS — Blue tarps that have been covering water fountains at St. Lawrence Central Elementary School to keep students and staff from drinking the water have spread to the middle and high school building.

The elementary school has been on a boil-water advisory since last week after its well water was deemed non-potable when a regular monthly test came back positive for total coliform.

Now that same problem has popped up at the middle and high school building, with two positive tests of a separate well, Superintendent Stephan J. Vigliotti Sr. told Board of Education members Wednesday night.

The source has not been determined, according to Fred H. McLaughlin, the district’s director of transportation, buildings and grounds.

Now, Mr. Vigliotti said, the schools must take quick corrective action, either through a short-term or long-term fix, both involving capital project considerations.

He and Mr. McLaughlin will meet state Department of Health officials this week to gather recommendations.

“This isn’t a new issue. Last year it was much worse,” Mr. Vigliotti said.

He was referring to a year ago when the district was grappling with water issues at the middle and high school.

Early well-water tests run by the Department of Health had indicated a level of glycol higher than the regulatory standard in the well water.

Mr. Vigliotti said the main problem is dealing with the school’s 60-year-old storage tanks.

Board President Robert Dow wondered what it would cost to replace the storage tanks.

“They’re telling us they are expensive, but I don’t have specifics. We weren’t in a position to replace them, so we hadn’t gotten figures,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

Now the district is looking at either an emergency or a planned capital project, both of which have pros and cons, according to Mr. Vigliotti.

If board of education members choose to undertake an emergency capital project, Mr. Vigliotti said the state Education Department would likely approve it and put it on the fast track because of the emergency nature of the work. That would keep them from avoiding a continual problem, he said.

However, he said, the money would need to be laid out up front, and the cost is undetermined at this point. Aid back to the district would be spread out over a longer period of time, he said.

“We’re not in a good position to do that,” Mr. Vigliotti said.

On the other hand, board members may decide to do an additional capital project that would require voter approval. There would be no up front costs and they could expand the scope of the scope of the project, he said.

But that option also had cons. The time line would be much longer because of the need to scope out the project to decide what to include, and also to put it up for public vote. And, Mr. Vigliotti said, there’s always an uncertainty about whether voters would approve another project.

He and Mr. McLaughlin will meet with representatives from the Department of Health and SEI Design Group in the next four to five days to talk about short-term solutions, he said.

“We need to address this short-term solution with a vision of a long-term solution,” Mr. Vigliotti told board members.

He said the district had also been dealing with air quality issues, but tests had come back negative.

“Several students and staff members complained of an odor. Some had to seek medical attention,” Mr. Vigliotti said.

He said they contracted with Atlantic Testing, but no problems were found.

“All testing came back well within normal limits,” he said.

They had also received a report that someone was having problems with carbon monoxide, and Mr. Vigliotti said they had a representative from the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services come into run a test, which also came back negative.

He said they will continue to monitor both situations.

“We hope, number one, students and staff members if they were affected by any odors here are OK. Other than testing for everything under the sun, we’ll continue to monitor odors and complaints,” he said.

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