Lead screening policy gains board approval
CLAREMONT — The Claremont School Board approved a landmark lead screening policy for students Wednesday, along with funding to supplement a resurfacing project for the Monadnock Park Track.
With the approval, Claremont becomes first school district in the state with a lead screening policy. SAU 6 Superintendent Middleton McGoodwin said in an email that the policy will be implemented in the coming school year following the board’s approval.
The policy, which went before the board for a first reading on March 15, will require all students entering pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten to have had two blood lead level tests documented, along with the required immunization prior to school entry. The initiative is a joint effort between the school board and the City Council that was presented by Mayor Charlene Lovett during a joint meeting in November 2016.
According to a 2014 study by the Centers for Disease Control, the cost of a blood lead level test can range from $10 to $75. The study also states that “previous cost effectiveness studies of lead screening indicate that universal screening is the most cost-effective strategy in high-prevalence populations.”
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services has designated Claremont a Universal or “high-risk community” for lead poisoning, due to its industrial past. It continues to be on the state’s top eight highest risk communities for childhood lead poisoning.
This designation by the state requires all children in the city to be tested for lead exposure at age 1 and age 2. Children can be tested up to age 6.
Lead paint, which can be poisonous even through contact with a few particles on a fingertip, can lead to a lower IQ and other health problems. It can be found in homes built before 1978, when lead paint was banned for residential use. More than half of the state’s housing stock was built before the ban on lead-based paint, according to the policy.
Infants and toddlers are particularly at risk. According to the policy, 50 percent of the lead ingested by an infant is absorbed, compared to only 5 to 15 percent of that ingested by an adult.
“The high levels of special education, crime and mental health in Claremont suggests that there has not been enough lead screening assessments of children at an early age,” the policy states. “The effects of lead poisoning are both cumulative, and irreversible.”
Monadnock Park Track
The School Board also approved a funding contribution to help resurface the Monadnock Park track following a request from city Parks and Recreation Director Mark Brislin.
“The Monadnock Park track has been well maintained over the past 12 years. However, such composite running tracks need to be resurfaced after 10 years,” Brislin said in a memo to the school board on the subject.
In the memo, Brislin said he had noticed that the track needs resurfacing while attending a track meet on April 13. The department has $70,000 in the budget to complete the project, leaving a balance of $11,787.
Brislin said in the memo that he is proposing that the project take place and be completed this summer.
In a bid proposal from Cape and Island Tennis & Track out of Pocasset, Massachusetts, the project would resurface about 4,811 yards on the six-lane running track. The company quoted the project at $81,787, equating to $17 per square yard.