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Reimbursement funds available for reducing lead in school drinking water

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is now accepting applications for Missouri’s public schools to request reimbursement for costs associated with reducing lead in drinking water.

During the 2022 legislative session, Missouri’s legislature passed and the Governor signed Senate Bill (SB) 681, establishing the “Get the Lead Out of School Drinking Water Act” effective Aug. 28, 2022. Additionally, the 2023 state fiscal budget included $27 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to assist schools with this process.

The Act requires schools, pre-K through 12, to test drinking water for lead contamination and to take corrective action when the lead content meets or exceeds the established action level of 5 parts per billion of lead.

DHSS collaborated with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Natural Resources to design a program to assist schools in meeting the requirements and planning for the distribution of the funding.

Eligibility and distribution criteria was established as required by state statute RSMo 160.077 and the funding authority. The eligibility criteria for funding distribution are as follows:

  1. Funds are available to public school and affiliated early education programs receiving state funding.
  2. Each school district is eligible to receive a minimum award of $5,000.
  3. The maximum eligible award per district is based on the student enrollment during the 2022-2023 school year. Disadvantaged school districts are to be prioritized for this funding opportunity; prioritization is achieved by funding disadvantaged schools at a higher proportion of the per-student funds.
    1. Disadvantaged school districts are eligible for $61.40 per student. A disadvantaged school district is defined in RSMo 160.077 as:
      • More than 70% of students in the district qualify for free and reduced lunch, OR
      • 25% or greater of households within a county that the school district serves are below federal poverty guidelines.
    2. All other school districts are eligible for $20.47 per student.

Public schools can be reimbursed for eligible expenses incurred between March 3, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2024. Public schools are required to apply for reimbursement to receive such funds. The application window is open Sept. 1, 2023 through Jan. 31, 2024.

More information and access to the application and instructions for reimbursement are available on the DHSS website at Health.Mo.Gov.

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