Illinois schools seeking detector installation

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Some Illinois school officials who don't want to wait months to find out if they have to install carbon monoxide detectors are taking matters into their own hands.

Last week, state Sen. Sam McCann introduced legislation requiring school buildings to be equipped with the detectors. The proposal follows a carbon monoxide leak in a Macoupin County school, which sent 150 students and staff to a local hospital.

Maroa-Forsyth school chief Mike Williams told the Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises ( ) that the incident at North Mac Junior High prompted him to get carbon monoxide detectors installed near furnaces and water heaters.

"It is better to be safe than sorry," he said.

Sangamon Valley School District Superintendent Ernie Fowler recently ordered detectors for all of the schools in his district. He also gave principals directions on how to respond the gas is detected.

Jeff Holmes, superintendent of the Clinton School District, said he plans to ask school board members to approve the installation of carbon monoxide detectors at the high school and junior high.

"When you are talking about the safety of individuals sometimes you just have to take care of it," he said.

Since schools are already required to have smoke detectors, McCann said it is reasonable to also enforce the requirement of carbon monoxide detectors.

"I was very surprised to find out they were not required," he said.

Although McCann's proposal would establish the exact placement of the approved carbon monoxide detector models, it doesn't specify who would pay for them.

The Illinois Association of School Boards believes local school districts should decide whether or not they want to install the detectors, according to Ben Schwarm, the organization's deputy executive director. But if the state mandates the units, funding should be provided.

"If the state thinks it's a high enough priority, they should budget for it," he said.

Mike Chamness, a spokesman for the Illinois Association of School Administrators, agrees with Schwarm.

"I by no means am thinking that the bill in its current form will be the bill that becomes law. It's designed to be the catalyst for the conversation that needs to occur," McCann said.


Information from: Southern Illinoisan,

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