In a town where lead poisoning is so prevalent that testings are held under the guise of family fun nights, there’s just one nurse on the school district’s payroll.
Her name is Eileen Tomasi, according to Marketplace, and she’s the sole care giver for all 5,500 children enrolled in Flint public schools. The district currently has a deficit of $10 million (which is lower than the previous year where it loomed at $21 million), but the lead crisis, which often demonstrates itself through learning disabilities, means more resources are needed.
“Some of the psychologists in the district have said the little kids, the three, four and five-year-olds that they’re testing, that they’ve already seen a difference. They’re not where they should be right now as far as like sociability skills that they test the little ones. This is going to be an ongoing issue for years and years and years. It’s a whole generation here that’s been poisoned. So the impact on the schools will be huge,” said Tomasi.
District superintendent Bilal Tawwab says his team needs more nurses, special education teachers and early childhood programs to deal with what the water crisis has created. Perhaps some of the $28 million in emergency aid that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder approved on Friday can help Flint’s ailing school district.
Elsewhere, Senate Democrats proposed a federal aid package of $400 million, contingent on Michigan spending the same amount, according to the Daily News.
An assessment cited in the state’s request for a federal disaster declaration estimated the potential cost of fixing the damage to Flint’s water distribution infrastructure at $713 million. Snyder and the Republicans who control the state Legislature have said it’s too early to talk about wholesale replacement of the pipes.
To compound the general horror of this story: it was reported yesterday that Michigan’s government had been offering state employees bottled water since 2015.
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Image via AP.