Some Newark schools need bottled water - still - due to lead

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- Newark schools resumed Tuesday, but some students were still not able to use water fountains at school.

Wide eyed second graders are ready to learn. Tuesday was Belmont Runyon Community School's first day.

"Our school day started at 8, so my scholars are already in classrooms, they had breakfast, teaching and learning has begun," said Shawn Oxendine-Walter, the principal.

That's how community schools make sure their students are ready, leaders say, in this district of 35,000-plus students and 3,200 educators.

"I am pleased with the retention rate of teachers who came back, the quality of educators who work here, we have great teachers," said Christopher Cerf, Newark Schools Superintendent.

The schools began the new school year still giving out bottled water to students, as it fixes its lead water problems that were discovered in several water fountains last year.

They hope to have those issues repaired by October. But it also begins the new year looking to exceed last year's successes of better reading and math scores and graduation rates.

At Grover Cleveland Elementary in Caldwell, Governor Christie signed several education bills he says will expand fairness in how money is distributed to school districts to ensure more success across the board.

It was the annual sendoff, with parents giving encouraging words to their kids.

It was a long day at Belmont Runyon, in at 8 out at 3:30, summer is indeed over.
Results from about 300 drinking water outlets throughout the district, all of which are currently shut off, showed the water was safe in the majority of drinking water outlets.

A complex of schools tested for led levels above 15 parts per billion:

-- 74 Montgomery Street is the American History High School

-- 70 Montgomery Street is the Early Childhood School at Samuel L. Berliner
Other schools:

-- The early childhood school at Berliner, which was one of the first to be tested, had four results greater than 15 parts per billion.

-- The American history high school has three results greater than 15 parts per billion.

City officials have said that the levels were contained to school buildings, and did not originate from the city's water source. The lead is likely from pipes and other infrastructure in the aging school buildings, officials said.
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