May 16, 2002

State Senator John McKinney, R-Fairfield, today is calling upon legislative leaders to address school air quality in the upcoming Special Session. According to Sen. McKinney, the failure to pass legislation to improve the indoor air quality in schools during the regular session was a mistake.

“Letting this bill die was a mistake, plain and simple,” said Sen. McKinney. “Fortunately, we have an opportunity to go back and address the issue once again in the special session.”

Legislators next month will head back to Hartford to deal with the state’s $750 million budget deficit. According to Sen. McKinney, while it’s not common to open up the special session to other issues, there are exceptions. “If, in fact, we ‘just ran out time’ like I’ve heard many of my colleagues indicate, then I think it is appropriate to open up the special session. After all this is about protecting the health and safety of our children and teachers by making sure that the air they breath while in school is safe.”

Sen. McKinney points to the McKinley School in Fairfield that was permanently shut down in October of 2000 due to severe mold contamination. “This is a great example of why we so desperately need enforceable air quality standards,” said Sen. McKinney who, as Ranking Senate Member of the Environment Committee, has fought hard for such legislation the last three years.

Under the legislation, local school boards would be required to inspect and evaluate their schools’ indoor air quality. The measure directs the state Department of Education (SDE), school boards and town building committees to determine how a school building project will affect building air quality before it’s approved. It also requires school boards to conduct continuing studies of the maintenance necessary to protect indoor environmental quality.

“One of the failures of the session was that this bill wasn’t passed into law,” said Sen. McKinney. “Fortunately, we have a chance to resuscitate this legislation in the special session. It is my hope leaders in both the House and Senate will recognize the importance and significance such a measure will have upon the health of our children.”