City school ran out of wa­ter

Bot­tled wa­ter ex­hausted at Ho­labird Academy; re­order went un­filled

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Talia Rich­man trich­man@balt­ twit­­iRich­man

Teach­ers and par­ents of stu­dents at Ho­labird Academy said the South­east Bal­ti­more school ran out of bot­tled wa­ter Thurs­day.

Anna Perez, who has two young boys at Ho­labird, said she re­ceived a text from her son’s teacher at 1:15 p.m.

“Hey I wanted you to know that there is no wa­ter at the school and there hasn’t been all morn­ing,” the text read. “Idk [I don’t know] why they haven’t told par­ents but I wanted you to know in case you want to bring the boys up some­thing to drink.”

Perez, 27, brought wa­ter bot­tles to her sons and their class­mates. She said she was ner­vous be­cause her pre-kinder­gart­ner has asthma.

Ho­labird stu­dents, like those at many city schools, are not per­mit­ted to drink from the school’s foun­tains or faucets be­cause the wa­ter may be con­tam­i­nated with lead.

The school district spends about half a mil­lion dol­lars each year to sup­ply wa­ter jugs and cool­ers to schools lo­cated in older build­ings with lead pipes. The bot­tled wa­ter cool­ers are po­si­tioned in class­rooms and hall­ways.

Ho­labird Prin­ci­pal Stephanie Pap­pas de­clined to com­ment Thurs­day. City schools spokes­woman Edie House-Foster said the chil­dren would have wa­ter today.

“They ran out of wa­ter around noon and con­tacted the wa­ter ven­dor,” she said. “They were promised wa­ter [Thurs­day] afternoon, and the de­liv­ery did not come. They’re ex­pect­ing it tonight and to have wa­ter to­mor­row. If not, [the prin­ci­pal] will make other ar­range­ments.”

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Deer Park, the com­pany that sup­plies city schools with bot­tled wa­ter, did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment Thurs­day.

Other par­ents said they were un­aware of the sit­u­a­tion un­til they picked chil­dren up from school at 3:40 p.m.

Gena McCray said her 6-year-old son told her the jug he uses to re­fill his wa­ter bot­tle was empty dur­ing the school day. McCray said she wishes she had known so she could have brought wa­ter to his class­room.

“It’s a need-to-know kind of thing,” said McCray, 44. “Par­ents need to know whether their chil­dren are re­ceiv­ing ne­ces­si­ties at school.”

The district an­nounced plans in July to take steps to end the sys­tem’s 10-year re­liance on bot­tled wa­ter by even­tu­ally in­stalling lead fil­ters across nearly 160 schools in Bal­ti­more. The city’s newer schools are equipped with fil­ters and lead-free pipes.

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