“Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Offers Reimbursement for Lead Reduction in School Drinking Water”
– Missouri public schools can now apply for reimbursement to cover the costs of reducing lead in drinking water.
– The “Get the Lead Out of School Drinking Water Act” requires schools to test for lead contamination and take corrective action if necessary.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has opened applications for Missouri’s public schools to request reimbursement for expenses related to reducing lead in drinking water. This opportunity comes after the passing of Senate Bill (SB) 681, also known as the “Get the Lead Out of School Drinking Water Act,” during the 2022 legislative session. The act requires schools from pre-K through 12th grade to test their drinking water for lead contamination and take appropriate corrective measures if the lead content exceeds 5 parts per billion.
To support schools in meeting these requirements, DHSS collaborated with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Natural Resources to design a program and distribute $27 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Eligibility criteria have been established based on state statute RSMo 160.077 and the funding authority. All public school districts and affiliated early education programs receiving state funding are eligible, with each district guaranteed a minimum award of $5,000. The maximum eligible award per district is determined by student enrollment during the 2022-2023 school year, prioritizing disadvantaged districts that serve students from low-income households or have a high percentage of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch. Disadvantaged school districts can receive $61.40 per student, while all other districts are eligible for $20.47 per student.
Public schools can seek reimbursement for eligible expenses incurred between March 3, 2021, and December 31, 2024. It is mandatory for schools to apply for reimbursement within the application window, which is open from September 1, 2023, to January 31, 2024. More information and the application instructions can be found on the DHSS website at Health.Mo.Gov.
This initiative by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services aims to ensure safe drinking water in schools and protect the health of students. By providing financial assistance and establishing testing and corrective action requirements, the state is taking proactive measures to address lead contamination in school drinking water.