Month: December 2020

New study finds Vermont and 20 other states have more non-teaching staff than teachers

first_imgTwenty-one states, including Vermont, employ more bus drivers, librarians, cafeteria workers, deputy superintendents, accountants, coaches, nurses, assistant principals, and other non-teaching personnel than they do classroom teachers, according to a new analysis of state education employees by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.The report, a sequel to last fall’s “The School Staffing Surge: Decades of Employment Growth in America’s Public Schools,” examines states’ hiring patterns between 1992 and 2009. It found that, in 2009, administrators and other non-teaching staff outnumbered teachers in Virginia, Ohio, Michigan,Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Colorado, Oregon, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Louisiana,Wyoming, Vermont, Utah, Georgia, Alaska, New Hampshire, Iowa, and the District of Columbia, which is treated as a state in the report.”Taxpayers should be outraged public schools hired so many non-teaching personnel with such little academic improvement among students to show for it,” said Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. “This money could have been better invested in areas that have proved to benefit children.”Virginia far outpaced other states with the number of excessive personnel outside the classroom with 60,737 more non-teaching staff than teachers, followed by Ohio with 19,040 more non-teaching personnel than teachers.The report also compared the growth rate among administrators and non-teaching staff with student enrollment changes from 1992 to 2009. It found that 48 states could be saving $24 billion annually if the hiring of non-teaching staff had not exceeded the growth of students between 1992 and 2009.In Texas, taxpayers would have saved almost $6.4 billion annually if public schools’ non-teaching personnel had not outpaced students. Virginia, Ohio, New York, California, and Pennsylvania each would have annual, recurring savings in the billions. Other states’ savings are in the millions; however, Nevadaand Arizona actually saved money, as both its administrative and non-teaching personnel did not outpace student growth. Data were not available for South Carolina.”States could do much more constructive things with those kinds of dollars,” Enlow said. “State leaders could be permitting salary increases for great teachers, offering children in failing schools the option of attending a private school, or directing savings toward other worthy purposes. Instead states have allowed these enormous bureaucracies to grow.”The report also shows the salary increases states could provide teachers annually if administrators and non-teaching personnel kept pace with the student population from 1992 to 2009. At the top was Virginia, which could provide teachers an annual salary increase of $29,007. Maine was second at $25,505.The report was compiled with data from the National Center for Education Statistics and prepared by Ben Scafidi, an economist at Georgia College & State University and a senior fellow at the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.To read the report, visit www.edchoice.org/StaffSurge2(link is external). That link also provides a map in which readers can download each state’s findings.SOURCE The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice 2.28.2013last_img read more

Vermont Health Connect selects 18 Navigator Organizations, distributes $2 million

first_imgVermont Health Connect on Tuesday announced $2 million in grants to organizations that will provide in-person health coverage enrollment assistance. Navigator Organizations will manage individual Navigators who will be trained and certified to provide direct assistance to individuals, families and small businesses across Vermont. Navigators will also play a key role in Vermont Health Connect’s outreach and education in communities. Their work will ensure that Vermonters know what changes are coming and have access to the tools and resources they need to apply for health coverage. Starting this October, Vermont Health Connect will be a new way for Vermonters to find health coverage that fits their needs and budget. Vermont Health Connect is a marketplace where individuals, families and small businesses can make side-by-side comparisons of private health plans and find financial help to pay for care. Vermont Health Connect is also for individuals and families in Vermont to find out about and enroll in public health coverage. Navigators will be available in communities throughout the state to help Vermonters understand their health care options, enroll in a plan, and access financial help. Small employers and their employees can also turn to Navigators for help in determining their best health coverage options. ‘Social service agencies, business associations, and others across Vermont have shown that they are ready, willing and able to assist fellow Vermonters in finding health coverage that meets their needs and budget,’said Mark Larson, Commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access. ‘We welcome their collaboration and look forward to tapping their expertise to efficiently reach eligible Vermonters. We are confident the grants will serve Vermonters well.’ Organizations interested in serving as Navigator Organizations responded to a grant announcement posted by the Department of Vermont Health Access in early April. In their proposals, applicants identified the population(s) they intend to provide assistance to, either by geographic area or specific to an audience in need of enrollment assistance. Some of the potential audiences in need of enrollment assistance include the small business community, low income households, and new American communities of Vermont. A total of 29 different proposals were received, representing partnerships of 53 unique Vermont organizations. Eighteen proposals were funded at varied levels based on their capacity and reach. Grantees will designate individual Navigators to receive training and begin outreach work in July. Two applicant partnerships were selected to coordinate outreach and enrollment of individuals and families across the state, and two others were selected to coordinate outreach and enrollment of small businesses. Statewide Coordinating Navigator OrganizationsGrant AwardChamplain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (in partnership with Community Action in Southwestern VT, Northeast Kingdom Community Action, and Southeastern Vermont Community Action) $ 200,000 Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (in partnership with the Vermont Grocers Association, Vermont Retail Association, and the Vermont Medical Society) $ 200,000 Vermont Chamber of Commerce Services, Inc. (in partnership with various regional business membership organizations) $ 260,000 Vermont Coalition of Clinics for the Uninsured (in partnership with nine of its clinics) $ 204,833 Navigator OrganizationsGrant AwardAssociation of Africans Living in Vermont $ 56,576 Bi-State Primary Care Association (in partnership with eight of its member organizations) $ 100,000 Central Vermont Community Action Council $ 80,000 Community Health Centers of Burlington $ 135,000 Community Health Centers of the Rutland Region, Inc. $ 100,000 Community Health Services of Lamoille Valley $ 40,000 HR Consulting Solutions LLC $ 100,000 Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce (in partnership with The Franklin County Regional Chamber of Commerce, Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Addison County Chamber of Commerce) $ 120,000 People’s Health and Wellness Clinic $ 70,000 Planned Parenthood of Northern New England $ 100,000 Richford Health Center, Inc. d/b/a Northern Tier Center for Health $ 80,000 Spectrum Youth & Family Services $ 40,000 Vermont Campaign for Health Care Security $ 132,821 Vermont Family Network $ 50,000 Successful applicants demonstrated financial responsibility, existing relationships or ability to readily establish relationships with Vermont Health Connect-eligible populations, ability to manage Navigators, ability to conduct outreach and education, and a familiarity with the Vermont health care system. Per the application requirements, they are registered businesses in Vermont and they have no conflicts of interest with federal guidelines for the program.Vermont Health Connect 5.22.2013The Navigator Program is one piece of Vermont Health Connect’s comprehensive consumer assistance program. In addition to the work of Navigator Organizations, health industry employees will be trained and certified to provide enrollment assistance; registered and licensed brokers will have an opportunity to serve small businesses and individuals; and an enrollment support unit and Vermont-based call center will be available.  Together, these resources will ensure that Vermonters can get the enrollment help they want, online, by phone or in-person. For additional details visit www.VermontHealthConnect.gov(link is external).last_img read more

Energy prices bound to rise without Vermont Yankee, grid operator ISO NE says

first_imgNorthstar Vermont Yankee,Andrew Stein vtdigger.org The New England power grid operator, ISO New England, expects greenhouse gas emissions and wholesale energy prices to rise as a result of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant’s closing in late 2014.The energy market can spike or dip quickly, and a range of variables can affect energy prices and sources. But if the market remains relatively steady, ISO representatives project that Vermont Yankee’s closure would have a noticeable impact on the region.ISO’s projected increases are tied to its method for organizing energy bids, called ‘bid stack.’ ISO organizes bids from power generators across New England in bid stack from low to high, or cheap to expensive.Lower energy bids sell first from the stack, and more expensive sources of power come online as they are needed. Removing Vermont Yankee from the stack means that the bids would shift down, and more expensive generators would fill the roughly 600-megawatt void left by Vermont Yankee.Stephen Rourke, vice president of system planning for ISO, said this movement would inflate the price of power in the market above what it would have been with Vermont Yankee in the mix.‘Our marginal energy prices, all things being equal, are going to go up a bit,’ he said.Rourke also pointed out that the new generators coming on line would be more fossil-fuel intensive.‘We’ll end up with more fossil fuel running on the margin,’ he said. ‘More often than not that is natural gas, or coal, or oil.’Vermont utilities are often vertically integrated, with a utility owning many of its power sources, unlike the rest of New England where utilities usually purchase power solely from independent generators.If the average price of power on the market rises, Rourke said, those other New England utilities and their ratepayers would feel it sooner. But, he says, Vermont ratepayers would eventually realize the financial effects of Vermont Yankee’s shutdown because they are not completely cut off from the New England power market.‘They might not feel it at first, but certainly through time they’d be affected by it,’ he said.Commissioner of the Vermont Public Service Department Chris Recchia doesn’t subscribe to this logic.‘I think it’s premature to say what will happen with greenhouse gas because we’re adding distributed generation in the form of solar and wind and hydro,’ he said.Vermont Yankee’s roughly 600 mW of capacity operating at a high rate of efficiency compares to the roughly 700 mW of intermittent wind capacity across New England.Recchia said he has a tough time believing that the price of power will go up due to Vermont Yankee’s closure. He says better forecasting and accounting for small renewable energy resources can improve power prices. And he points to a 23 percent dip in 2012 wholesale energy prices, which was driven by plummeting natural gas prices.Over the next three decades, however, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, expects natural gas prices to rise steadily ‘ albeit slowly.Rourke says Vermont Yankee’s closing should not affect the reliability of the grid. He says ISO is in the process of more precisely evaluating and projecting the effects of its shutdown on greenhouse gas emissions and energy prices. But, he says, the plant has a large presence in the region, and its shutdown will be felt.‘When you think of our average load during the course of the year, which is about 15,000 megawatts, and the lightest loads in spring and fall at 8,500 off-peak, 600 megawatts is a pretty big share of the off-peak loads,’ he said. ‘Because they run 24 hours a day, you can think of it as a cumulative effect over many thousands of hours.’last_img read more

Merchants Bank appoints Brandthropology for marketing services

first_imgBrandthropology, Inc,Community Bank NA,Merchants Bank, Vermont’s largest bank, announced the appointment of Brandthropology, Inc. as agency of record for its marketing communications. The firm is tasked with helping consolidate the bank’s position as the leading Vermont-based financial services provider.Brandthropology will bring significant experience from its engagements with clients in highly regulated industries including Northwestern Medical Center, Champlain National Bank, Kinney Pike Insurance and Hickok & Boardman HR Intelligence.“The team at Brandthropology distinguished themselves through the strength of their work, their smart approach to the integration of offline and online communications, and the strategic rigor of their marketing processes,” said Tina de la Torre, VP of Marketing at Merchants Bank. “Our pitch process included qualitative and quantitative assessment of several Vermont marketing agencies, and we were awestruck by the time, talent and enthusiasm they all put forth on our behalf.”Brandthropology’s Chief Brandthropologist, Matthew Dodds said, “Merchants Bank is one of the crown jewels of Vermont’s economy. We’re looking forward to helping the bank increase its visibility as Vermont’s preeminent financial institution, and underscoring the many positive ways it impacts the local community.”About BrandthropologyBrandthropology is an award-winning Vermont-based marketing firm working with a diverse mix of international, national and local clients. The company specializes in brand development driven by the creation and administration of highly evolved marketing ecosystems. Equally at ease in both traditional and digital environments, the firm’s integrated approach and metrics-informed processes evolve brands, ensuring that their clients stay in concert with customer and prospect needs. www.brandthropology.com(link is external)About Merchants BankEstablished in 1849, Merchants Bank is the largest Vermont-based bank, independent and locally operated. Consumer, business, municipal and investment customers enjoy personalized relationships, sophisticated online and mobile banking options, 32 state-wide branches, plus a nationwide network of over 55,000 surcharge-free Allpoint ATMs. Merchants Bank (Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender, NASDAQ “MBVT”) and Merchants Trust Company employ approximately 300 full-time employees and 40 part-time employees statewide, and have earned several “Best Place to Work in Vermont” awards. American Banker ranks Merchants Bank #10 in America among 851 peers. www.mbvt.com(link is external)last_img read more

Saint Michael’s grad Marine General Joseph Dunford confirmed to lead Joint Chiefs

first_imgSaint Michael’s College,Vermont Business Magazine General Joseph Dunford, confirmed by the US Senate Wednesday as the top officer in the US military – chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — is a 1977 graduate of Saint Michael’s College who now serves as commandant of the Marine Corps. In early May, President Barack Obama named Dunford as his nominee for the post. At that time, Saint Michael’s President Jack Neuhauser noted that General Dunford has maintained a proud and fond identification with Saint Michael’s since the general graduated as a political science major in 1977.“General Dunford has graciously returned to campus for alumni events and participated in programs on world issues over the years, and recently welcomed Saint Michael’s delegations to his office in the Pentagon as Marine commandant,” Neuhauser said in May following Dunford’s nomination to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He noted that in a recent interview with the College’s alumni magazine, Dunford spoke about how his Catholic liberal arts education was ideal preparation for success in a challenging military career. In that article, Dunford cited influences from his Saint Michael’s professors and experiences that “shaped the person I am now.”Neuhauser pointed to the College’s rich and ongoing military heritage. “With our hiring this year of a coordinator of student veterans services, Saint Michael’s continues to support veterans as we have through our history: we welcomed waves of returning World War II veterans on the GI bill, educated generations for military leadership through our former longstanding Air Force ROTC program, and have a memorial on campus honoring another great Marine Corps graduate, the late Vietnam-war-era Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Col. Donald Cook ’56.”“Our prayers are with General Dunford as he leads our country’s defense,” Neuhauser said of Dunford’s nomination in May. “This educated, sophisticated individual will serve us all well.”Another prominent alumnus of Saint Michael’s College, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) ’61, spoke about President Obama’s choice of General Dunford in May after the nomination as well:.“The President already is being credited with making a wise choice,” Leahy said of the nomination in May. “General Dunford is a skilled leader, admired by the men and women who served under him, and known for his respect and care for the civilians caught in the middle of conflict.““I have spoken with General Dunford about pressing security issues, about meeting the needs of those who serve, and about the sacrifices of families who support our men and women in uniform,” the senator continued. “We have also talked about Vermont and our alma mater, Saint Michael’s College.”About Saint Michael’s CollegeSaint Michael’s College delivers a compelling, world-class education in a beautiful Vermont setting. Our connected community allows students to form close relationships with each other and accomplished faculty members, providing an ideal learning environment where they have the space and support to challenge themselves and their peers. As a fully residential college located minutes from Burlington, one of the country’s top-rated college towns, Saint Michael’s offers an unparalleled mix of academic, spiritual, cultural, service and wildernessSaint Michael’s Collegelast_img read more

Pico Village Water Corp admits permit violations

first_imgVermont Business Magazine Pico Village Water Corporation, which operates a local water supply system in Killington, has agreed to pay $37,000 in civil penalties to the State of Vermont, to settle violations concerning the management and operation of a water supply system that services approximately 90 individuals in Killington.“Vermont has a robust regulatory program to protect our public drinking water supplies and we will hold water supply operators accountable to the highest levels of compliance,” said Attorney General Bill Sorrell. “This case is a strong example of the importance of the reporting and monitoring requirements contained in environmental permits,” he added.In the Consent Order(link is external) issued by the Superior Court Rutland Unit, based on a Stipulation for Entry of Consent Order(link is external), Pico Village Water Corporation admits to nine violations of its public water supply permit, for, among others, failure to have a certified operator and failure to submit required plans, documents, and reports. The violations occurred between 2013 and 2014. The company also admits to two violations of Vermont’s Water Supply Rule for not taking prompt action or documenting such action after testing showing an elevated E.coli level in 2012 and a chlorine leak in 2013.As a result of the State’s enforcement action, Pico Village Water Corporation has now substantially complied with its permit. The Consent Order requires submission of an updated lead and copper sampling plan. All other compliance issues have been resolved.Source: Vermont AG. Aug 29, 2016last_img read more

Weekly unemployment claims increase to over 300

first_imgVermont Business Magazine Weekly unemployment claims increased last week but remain at a very low level and fell from where they were a year ago. Claims had been falling steadily since early July. Claims also are lower than they were the same time last year, which has been the case for most weeks in 2017. For the week of October 7, 2017, there were 336 claims, 44 more than than they were last week and 112 fewer than they were a year ago.Altogether 2,543 new and continuing claims were filed, an increase of 61 from a week ago, and 438 fewer than a year ago.Claims during the summer usually hold at a relatively low level because of vacation hiring, until the next transition, which typically happens in September when school resumes. But claims this year did not experience that fluctuation, as hiring remains tight and the weather remains unseasonably warm.The state also saves a lot of money in not having to pay out unemployment insurance claims. Businesses have seen their rates drop slightly as the Vermont Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund remains flush.On July 1, 2017, the state reduced taxable rates for individual employers according to their experience rating. The rate reduction cut the highest UI tax rate from 8.4 percent to 7.7 percent, and the lowest rate from 1.3 percent to 1.1 percent. Additionally, July 1 marked the sunset of a provision that required claimants to wait one week between the time they were determined eligible for benefits to when they could collect those benefits.As usual, by industry, Services accounted for the most claims (60 percent of the total), as Manufacturing claims were nearly cut in half to fewer than 25 statewide.The Department processed 0 First Tier claims for benefits under Emergency Unemployment Compensation, 2008 (EUC08).Vermont’s unemployment rate for August was 3.0 percent. This reflects a one-tenth drop from the revised July rate (3.1 percent), as the Labor Force fell. SEE STORY.last_img read more

Comcast increases Internet speeds for most customers

first_imgComcast Cable,Vermont Business Magazine Comcast today announced it is increasing the speeds of some of its most popular Xfinity Internet service tiers – including Blast and Performance Pro – for new and existing customers in the Northeast Division, which includes 14 northeastern states from Vermont through Virginia and the District of Columbia. The increases, the company said in a press release, are at no additional cost and underscore the company’s leadership in delivering some of the fastest broadband Internet speeds, including Gigabit-speed services for both residential and business customers.Speed increases will vary based on a customers’ current speed subscription, but the vast majority will see an increase of 50 Mbps. The changes include:Blast tier download speeds increasing from 200 Mbps to 250 MbpsPerformance Pro tier download speeds increasing from 100 Mbps to 150 MbpsPerformance tier download speeds increasing from 25 Mbps to 60 MbpsPerformance Starter tier download speeds increasing from 10 Mbps to 15 Mbps“With new devices coming online for consumers every day, we’re committed to offering the fastest speeds and the best features and overall experience so our customers can take advantage of the technology available,” said Kevin Casey, President of Comcast’s Northeast Division. “We’ve increased speeds 17 times in the last 17 years, and continue to invest to deliver a fast, innovative and reliable experience in and out of the home.”New and existing customers can expect to see enhanced speeds this month. Most customers will automatically be upgraded to the new speeds, and will simply need to re-start their modems. Comcast will notify customers who may need to upgrade their modems to receive the new speeds. Those who lease modems from Comcast and require an upgrade can do so for no additional charge by requesting a self-install kit or visiting an Xfinity Store or service center. Those owning modems requiring an upgrade can purchase a new one or lease an Xfinity modem, which includes Xfinity xFi(link is external), which is a digital dashboard that lets customers personalize, manage and control their home Wi-Fi experience.For instance, customers can access xFi features via the mobile app, website, or TV with the X1 voice remote to set up their home Wi-Fi network, find their password, see what devices are connected, troubleshoot issues, set parental controls and even pause Wi-Fi access on their home network during dinner or bedtime. Comcast also recently introduced xFi Pods(link is external) – small, wireless Wi-Fi extenders that help blanket virtually any home with Wi-Fi coverage even in hard-to-reach areas. These are available in Boston and will continue to roll out across the Northeast Division.Today’s announcement follows a number of moves, like the introduction of xFi and xFi Pods, that the company has made to enhance its high-speed internet offerings. Comcast has invested billions of dollars in its network, locally and nationally, and delivers in most of the Northeast Division speeds ranging from up to 15 Mbps to up to 2 Gbps for residential customers and up to 10 Gbps for business customers. Comcast’s 1 Gigabit-per-second(link is external) speeds, which began launching to local residential and business customers last summer, are among the fastest and most widely available in the area. The service uses DOCSIS 3.1 technology to make it possible for Xfinity and Comcast Business internet customers to receive gigabit speeds over the communications lines that most customers already have in place. It is currently available across 80% of the division and set to reach almost all areas by the end of the year.So that customers can take advantage of increased internet speeds at home, Comcast also introduced the fastest in-home WiFi gateway(link is external). And on the go, Comcast provides Xfinity Internet customers with complimentary access to more than 18 million Xfinity WiFi(link is external) hotspots nationwide. Customers can select “xfinitywifi” from the list of available networks on their laptops or mobile devices and enter their Xfinity ID or email and password.  In addition to these enhancements, Comcast also offers the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program, Internet Essentials(link is external). This program provides low-cost broadband service for $9.95 a month, digital literacy training and discounted computers for low-income Americans.About ComcastComcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company with two primary businesses, Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is one of the nation’s largest video, high-speed internet, and phone providers to residential customers under the XFINITY brand, and also provides these services to businesses. It also provides wireless and security and automation services to residential customers under the XFINITY brand. NBCUniversal operates news, entertainment and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, television station groups, Universal Pictures and Universal Parks and Resorts. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com(link is external) for more information.Source: SOUTH BURLINGTON, VT – March 6, 2018 — Comcastlast_img read more

What is hazardous waste and what can you do about it?

first_imgVermont Business Magazine When people hear the words ‘hazardous waste,’ they may think of high-profile large industrial disasters, but in reality, most hazardous wastes are materials we are all familiar with, such as unused paint and solvents, oily wastes like shop rags, and strong acids and bases used in cleaning. This Spring, the Department of Environmental Conservation is hosting a series of micro-trainings to help towns and businesses learn how to identify, manage, and minimize generation of common hazardous wastes.”We wanted to provide a quick and easy training for anyone interested in learning how to identify manage, transport and dispose of hazardous waste. Attendees will also get a chance to hear about the simple strategies they can adopt to reduce the amount of hazardous waste they generate,” said Celia Riechel, Compliance Assistance Specialist with the Department of Environmental Conservation.The training is designed for businesses in manufacturing, food and beverage processing, wood products, vehicle maintenance, dentistry and veterinary medicine, laboratories, and dry cleaning, as well as school facilities and municipal garage staff, vocational students, and anyone else interested in how to safely manage and minimize hazardous wastes.The trainings will be offered at various locations throughout the state in May and June. Each training is free and lasts 2.5 hours.* May 21 (9-11:30am) in Rutland (Rutland Regional Medical Center, 160 Allen St)* May 31 (9-11:30am in Morrisville (Morristown Town Offices, Tegue Bldg., 43 Portland St)* June 5 (9-11:30am) in Williston (VT Technical College – Rm 401b, 201 Lawrence Place)* June 5 (1:30-4pm) in St. Albans (Northwestern VT Medical Center, Green Mountain Room, 133 Fairfield Street)For more information and to register to attend, visit the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation’s Environmental Assistance page at http://dec.vermont.gov/environmental-assistance/training(link is external)) or call 802-249-5260.Source: Agency of Natural Resourceslast_img read more

State recommends all schools test for lead in drinking water

first_imgVermont Business Magazine A new state report of a pilot program to test school drinking water for lead recommends that all Vermont school water systems be tested for the toxic metal. Sixteen schools from across the state participated in the voluntary initiative to help determine whether a comprehensive state-wide testing program should be considered.“There is no safe level of lead in the human body,” said Vermont Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD. “We have an obligation to ensure that students and school staff have safe drinking water, and one thing this project made clear is that you have to test the water to know if there is lead in it,” said Dr. Levine.Exposure to lead can slow down physical growth, and result in permanent developmental, learning and behavioral difficulties. While the effects of lead poisoning are irreversible, lead poisoning itself is entirely preventable. In 2017, 480 children under the age of 6 were poisoned by lead in Vermont. Paint is a major source of lead poisoning in Vermont children, but health officials emphasized lead in older plumbing, pipes and fixtures can add to a child’s overall lead exposure. Dr. Levine said that children absorb lead more easily than adults, so they are at special risk.The testing program was conducted over the past year as part of a collaborative effort by the Vermont Department of Health, Agency of Natural Resources and the Agency of Education to gain insight into how widespread elevated lead levels may be in Vermont schools.“Current regulations require testing of the quality of water at several locations throughout the municipal water system, but do not require testing for lead at school faucets. Thanks to the voluntary participation of the 16 schools that took part in this initiative, we have demonstrated the critical importance of testing at the faucet. The schools have provided valuable feedback on the sampling protocol and proven the effectiveness of remedial action. Their actions will inform the development of a program that works for Vermont,” said Emily Boedecker, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation.Results of the testing found that all the schools had multiple taps with lead levels above the Vermont Health Advisory Level of one part per billion (1 ppb). About one-third of the schools had at least one tap above the federal action level of 15 ppb for public drinking water. Lead was not found in bottle-fill drinking water stations equipped with proper filters.Plumbing fixtures were the common source of lead found in the drinking water of Vermont schools. Where elevated lead levels at the schools were identified, the fixtures were replaced or permanently taken out of service.“The good news is that when lead was found, the fixes were relatively inexpensive,” Dr Levine said. “Most schools are able to fully test all their taps for $800-$1200. Removing a tap from service and replacing the fixture was typically done for less than $500.”Dr. Levine highlighted that the cooperative nature of the pilot program made it easy for the schools to participate. “We all had the same goal in mind — protecting the health of everyone in our schools. The schools’ administration and staff were responsive, and quick to inform their communities and do the remediation work recommended for bringing lead levels as low as possible. Once the pilot was completed, we heard from numerous other schools interested in testing,” said Dr. Levine.The state will be reviewing the data and lessons learned from the testing pilot. “This is not a problem unique to Vermont,” Dr. Levine said. “Schools throughout the U.S. have elevated levels of lead. We will be considering this matter carefully for the potential paths forward to best protect the health of Vermont’s children.”Key Recommendations from the ReportTest for lead in school drinking water at all schoolsRemove redundant or seldom-used fixturesWhen lead is found, remove or replace plumbing or pipesEncourage centrally-located fountains, and use of bottle-fill stations with proper filtersFlush the lines of water after weekends, holidays or vacationsFind the report, the school testing results, and more information about lead in school drinking water: healthvermont.gov/school-drinking-water(link is external)Know what you can do to reduce lead in your home: Visit healthvermont.gov/lead(link is external) or call the Healthy Homes Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 802-863-7220 or 800-439-8550.Source: 9.20.2018. Vermont Department of Health healthvermont.gov(link is external)last_img read more