Bouncing Budget

Ten years ago a fifth grade  elementary school student at Pooler Elementary brought some mercury to class and was showing it to some other kids at school and a diligent teacher noticed the kids were PLAYING with it. Well, if you see something, say something and the teacher reported it.  You'd have thought there was a terrorist there taking hostages.  The Savannah Fire & Emergency Services hazardous materials team was dispatched to support Pooler Fire Department crews called to the school.  Classes were cancelled for the day while an air quality study was conducted. School staffers were asked to report for work as far away as possible like Woodville-Tompkins Technical and Career Institute several miles away.  The state Environmental Protection Division swung into action asking Pooler students to place their school uniforms and backpacks outside their homes that night--in a bag, of course, to avoid any potential personal contamination.  Classes were also canceled for the next day and not sure if they'd resume the following day!  

There was a hazard cleanup and as I recall some of the students' parents got new washing machines after using the old ones to wash their children's clothes!  Goodness knows how much this all cost.  I went to the press conference at the school with the EPA guy and school officials and for awhile I thought they were going to raze the place and rebuild in Smyrna--just in case!  

Fast forward ten years and now someone discovered that there was a trace--a TRACE, mind you--of mercury in the gym floors and what's been the reaction?  Over reaction as usual.  Let's rip 'em up and put down new ones!  Not at just one or two schools but at 12 or 13.  And my question remains the same--HOW MUCH IS THIS GOING TO COST and secondly, just how ridiculous is this??? A trace of mercury can be found in lots of things--a can of tuna comes to mind.  We're warned not to eat Salmon more than three times a week because of mercury content.  But if it will save just ONE life--it's worth it! That's the usual argument.  And these floors are dangerous how? There's a greater chance of a kid being knocked down on it during a game and breaking an ankle or knee than getting mercury poisoning.  Maybe the new floors ought to be real soft so that won't happen either.  So are the kids going to lick the floor when they get knocked down on it.  Are the shoes going to scuff it and some deadly mercury is going to be exposed to the students and faculty?  Well let's err on the side of caution, here--get those new floors down as soon as possible.  Money is no object, the taxpayers are bottomless pits as you know so what are we waiting for--time is of the essence!  

Gag me!  Don't go see that Queen movie since it's about Freddie Mercury, you know.  Don't go outside if Mercury is the morning or evening star!  I'm only trying to protect you here.  But when we live in an age when we have to call a hazmat team if someone breaks a CFL and we're told when one burns out after only five months of the seven years it was supposed to last to "dispose of it properly--don't throw it in the trash" you know the inmates are finally running the asylum! How many teacher bonuses could be given out for Christmas--OH EXCUSE ME--Winter Break with what it's going to cost us to replace those floors?  

Bill Edwards

Bill Edwards

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