NOTE: Discussion on this issue occurred prior to a decision being issued on the anti-chloramine petition. Late Thursday City Attorney Mitch Seaver released his findings, stating the initiative was legally insufficient. The issue therefore will not be brought before voters.
On Wednesday night, the Ketchikan School Board voted to indefinitely postpone a resolution taking a stance on the use of chloramine in city water. The City of Ketchikan switched to a chloramine disinfection system earlier this month.
The proposed resolution was prepared by School Board member Trevor Shaw. Shaw says there is a lot of conflicting research and the use of chloramines is a personal issue. He says he drafted the statement after a public request for the school board take a stance.
City water is used in many school buildings, and the Gateway Aquatic Center is often used for school programs. The resolution states that the School Board takes no official position. Shaw made the motion to postpone.
“I think it could be a dangerous precedent to set as to how we are going to tell other governmental bodies to do their work. For example the City Council wants to tell us how to run our schools or the City Council wants to tell the Borough how to do this or the Borough wants to tell us how to do that. We talk about micromanaging and I feel that the city did this because it was the most viable option, and the voters will make their decision. That’s a personal decision that has to be made. That’s why I ask that we postpone this indefinitely.”
Several board members agreed with Shaw and felt the issue would be decided by voters. School Board member Ralph Beardsworth says this is a city issue and the school board should not interfere.
Student member Evan Wick says the proposed resolution fails to address the public request.
“I think it would be appropriate for the board to take a position on this issue because of the impact it has on our schools. I’ll come right out here and say I haven’t drank any water from the school since they have started putting into the system. I believe that the board should take a position because we’ve been asked by the public to do so.”
Board member Collen Scanlon says she is not comfortable telling the city what to do. She says only one person has spoken publicly to the School Board about the issue.
“I don’t know where I stand on this yet, and I certainly haven’t gotten any phone calls from constituents saying ‘I want you to do this for our schools.’ For that reason I can’t support taking a position at this time. I don’t have enough information. This issue did go before the voters of this community 10 years ago when the bond was approved, and it’s happened. We can take a position, but it’s not going to change anything.”
The motion to postpone the resolution indefinitely passed with Wick and Board members Stephen Bradford and Michelle O’Brien voting against postponement.