US grant aims to help Flint schools deal with lead crisis

In a March 21, 2016 photo, the Flint Water Plant water tower is seen in Flint, Mich. Flint residents who've grown accustomed to using bottled water and avoiding the faucet are now getting new instructions: Use more tap water. The conundrum is that city residents aren't running enough water to rid the system of toxic lead. People aren't showering as much, are afraid to drink tap water even with faucet filters, and don't want to pay high water bills to run water they're not using. But that's slowing efforts to clean out lead deposits and effectively recoat the pipes and plumbing to make them safe again. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — U.S. education officials on Friday announced a $480,000 grant to help Flint Community Schools as the public district grapples with problems associated with the city’s lead-contaminated drinking water crisis.

The money will support the hiring of attendance specialists, counselors and psychologists.

Education Secretary John King Jr. said Flint’s challenges, including its water crisis, are “emblematic of a broader crisis, which is an unwillingness to invest in the common good,” The Flint Journal reported.

“And you see that in the lack of investment in infrastructure, and you see that in the lack of investment in education,” he said while speaking with students, guardians and others during a round table discussion Friday in Flint.

Flint was under state control in 2014 when it switched from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River to save money. Tests later showed the river water was improperly treated, causing lead to leach from aging pipes.

Lead contamination has been linked to learning disabilities and other problems in children.

The city has switched back to Detroit’s system.

The U.S. House approved a plan last week to provide $170 million to help Flint rebuild its water system. That followed Senate action two weeks earlier.

Monica McDonald told King and local officials during Friday’s round table that the city’s water crisis “is just another thing on top of everything that’s compounding on my plate.”

“We all have crisis in various forms before this water crisis got here,” said McDonald, whose granddaughter attends a Flint high school. “We’re focusing on the water crisis, but with all the barriers — and I can speak for myself — I am taking care of a dying mom. … I have a … caved in roof that’s leaking through my ceiling fan.”

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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