News Local/State

Champaign Teacher’s Union Demands Clean Water In Schools


The Champaign Federation of Teachers is calling on the Champaign Unit 4 School administration to take immediate action to ensure clean drinking water at all the schools in the district.

Jennifer White is the president of the teacher’s union. She says the school district is not acting quickly enough to address concerns raised last fall, when testing revealed 43 samples from sinks and six from drinking fountains showed elevated levels of lead, according to a standard of 5 ppb set by the Illinois State Board of Education.

White says she’s been speaking with school administrators about action steps. But she’d like to see a greater sense of urgency from the district to address the concerns raised and ensure safe drinking water for staff and students.

“The issue really lies in what I perceive as a lack of urgency and timeliness with their responses,” White says.

The teacher’s union has asked the district to provide lab testing to staff who want to have bloodwork done, and a comprehensive plan to install and maintain water filters for teachers who request them.

“When you’ve got the little ones, you don’t want them going down to the water fountain all the time, or you don’t want to have to go down to the water fountain and fill up a pitcher with a slow water fountain and bring it back to the classroom,” she says.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health website, lead in the body is not safe at any level and can cause permanent damage in the developing brain.

Champaign Unit 4 officials said in a statement Wednesday that the school districts continues to take action in response to the report on lead levels in school faucets and water fountains - and they will continue to partner with the Champaign Federation of Teachers to address safety concerns.

Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman