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Lead paint found at Portland schools

by: KOIN NEWS 6 - Lead was discovered in the paint at Alameda Elementary School six months ago, but school officials said a lack of funding has prevented them from removing it.A parent of Portland public school student voiced her concern on Thursday about paint discovered on school grounds that contains high levels of lead.

According to tests conducted by Portland Public Schools and an independent party, paint chips at Alameda Elementary School contain about 33 percent to 35 percent lead by weight. That amount means a third of each ounce of the paint contains lead.

Virginia Forte, whose son attends the elementary school, said she has been requesting the field notes from the assessment done six months ago, which is how long the school has known about the issue but has yet to take action.

According to Forte, the handrails leading into the school and playground are particularly concerning because some children use them as monkey bars.

“This could have been avoided with proper maintenance. It didn’t have to be like this, and if things like this wall had been properly maintained, we wouldn’t have lead chips on the ground,” said Forte.

When Tony Magliano, Portland Public Schools chief operating officer, was asked why nothing was done, he said a lack of funding has prevented them from fixing the issue.

“Alameda is one of many schools that need paint. And with funding available, it would be nice to paint the entire building, but funding allows us to address priority areas,” said Magliano.

Officials said the district receives roughly $50,000 in grant money from Portland’s Water Bureau to paint over lead surfaces.

Magliano emphasized that money is prioritized by need, following the U.S. Environmental Protections Agency’s guidelines, which mandates lead paint be addressed in areas where children under six are present.

The district said the handrails covered with lead paint at Alameda Elementary School will be painted over on Friday.