As a reaction to that incident, a state representative has pre-filed a bill requesting that detectors be required in all Georgia public schools.
Neither Carroll County Schools nor Carrollton City Schools have detectors in place now, but if the bill becomes a law, their leaders have said they’ll answer the call.
District 53 Rep. Sheila Jones, D-Atlanta, pre-filed House Bill 23 last month, requesting that on and after July 1, 2013, every public and private elementary and secondary school in Georgia is required to have carbon monoxide detectors and equipment.
Jones’ bill also includes provisions that the detectors should be periodically inspected and maintained by the school.
“We don’t have any currently, but if they became required, we certainly would,” said Mike Sanders, assistant superintendent of the city school system. “We’re fortunate that we have just a few systems in our school buildings that would emit carbon monoxide, so we run a much smaller risk than other schools.”
Scott Cowart, superintendent of the county school system, said the district would have to audit their schools and see what they have to catch up on if the bill becomes law.
“We’re going to watch what the legislature does and see if it goes through,” Cowart said. “If it does, we will do whatever is required. We always want to keep our kids’ safety first in our considerations.”
Sanders also stressed the financial expense that could be incurred if the bill becomes law, something more important in times of constricted budgets and limited funding. The detectors come at “various expense levels,” he said.
“We want to do it right and in a way that’s safe for the kids, obviously, but we also want to do it at the best expense we can find,” Sanders said. “We’ve looked into them, and they can be fairly costly.”
The assistant superintendent said the detectors homeowners by at home improvement stores would not work in the large setting of a school.
“The ones you use at home won’t work in a building as big as one of our schools,” Sanders said. “We looked at them immediately after the Atlanta leak, and were surprised to see how much they can cost.”
Sanders said the system already has ideas for the implementation of the equipment, so installing them would not be so difficult if the bill goes through.
“We will do whatever becomes required, if it becomes required,” he said. “We’ll be ready if it happens.”
The carbon monoxide leak at Finch Elementary School in southwest Atlanta was caused by two maintenance workers who neglected to reopen a valve on the school furnace after inspecting it.
The leak of the lethal, colorless gas sent more than 30 students from the school to the hospital.