Dear Editor:

I'd like to share with our community the comments I made at the Jan. 11 West Carroll School Board meeting.

Having read accounts of the last school board meeting, it appears two school board members have the philosophy "keep the high school in Savanna regardless of cost." Should they not be focused on what is best for the student body and staff? Does that include health/welfare/safety and education? Let's review their previous comments.

Regarding education: The district applied for and received grant money to expand the cafeteria at the primary school (in Savanna) and upgrade the science labs at the middle school (not in Savanna). Two board members voted "no."

One board member thought the science lab expansion project seemed unnecessary and expensive, but the cafeteria expansion would be beneficial. The other board member thought the science lab expansion was a waste of money.

They were willing to give the grant money back rather than spend it in a building not in Savanna. Hard to believe these former educators are against upgrading the district's ability to improve the science curriculum. I want to thank the other board members for supporting the science education project in the district.

I ask all board members to look at health/welfare/safety issues. At the October 2022 school board meeting, I addressed the board regarding concerns I had with the board not taking the required steps, in a timely manner, to close an excess building.

The high school building is the oldest building, over 60 years old, and it was identified as being in poor condition in a District Health/Life/Safety report. It is the only learning center with asbestos, lead pipes, no sprinkler system, and classroom doors that don't automatically close during emergencies. The other two newer learning centers do not have these issues.

Currently, the kitchen in the high school is closed due to excess lead in the water. The board has been aware of lead issues in this building for a while now since two water fountains had to be closed off and removed due to excess lead at those locations. As the old pipes in the high school continue to deteriorate, it's unknown when the next draw point will exceed the acceptable limit of lead and be consumed by students and staff until the next test finds it unsafe to drink.

Why is this building not closed until the problem is resolved? Is it because the high school must stay in Savanna no matter the cost? Please consider the health/welfare/safety for all students, staff and visitors and do what is required to keep everyone safe.

I also ask the parents of current high school students, who do not want to have their children exposed to asbestos and lead every school day, to ask the board to close the high school building as soon as possible and provide their children a safe learning environment.

Mike Risko

Alderman, Mount Carroll