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School board votes against further soil testing

CARLSBAD — Despite lingering community concerns, school trustees voted unanimously on July 28 against further soil testing at Carlsbad’s Kelly Elementary School.
The Carlsbad Unified School District board of trustees officially put the issue to rest after months of discussion with local residents. Board members said they were confident the school was safe based on tests and research done so far, eliminating a need for more.
“I understand the fear but I believe in science and I believe in Kelly School,” board member Kelli Moors said. “I feel safe — I would send my children to Kelly School.”
Superintendent John Roach supplied the board with a brief history of the issue before they voted. He addressed the soil testing results released in June and research done by various health officials, all of which concluded there is nothing suspicious at Kelly.
Roach also reminded the board that Carlsbad’s water supply and air quality are routinely tested by the city. More thorough soil-coring tests could be done at a cost, but was not necessary based on already published results, he said.
“We’ve been continuously asked to test the soil,” Roach said. “It’s a natural request because we want to know why, but there’s nothing magic about the coring (tests).”
For the first time, the board had a chance to review aerial photos of the area spanning nearly a century. Analysts confirmed that the school property had never been used for farming, which some residents had previously thought.
Local advocate John Quartarone and several doctors suggested that more thorough testing should be done to ease their concerns.
Earlier this year, a group led by Quartarone suggested something at Kelly could be causing a higher number of cancer cases within the school’s community.
“We implore you to consider testing at Kelly School,” said Quartarone, who lost his 16-year-old son Chase to cancer late last year. “We want Kelly to be clear.”
Other Kelly Elementary School parents said they were satisfied with the testing results and were ready to move on. For them, it’s more important that they head into the upcoming school year focused on education.
“I don’t want Kelly School to be the brunt of this whole thing,” said Charles Capps, whose children have attended the school. “I want the administration and you folks to work on making the school better for the kids.”
In the end, the board did agree to revisit the issue should the community raise the funds — ranging from $8,000 to $60,000 — down the line. No district time or resources will be used to further look at the issue until then and a notice explaining the board’s position will be publicly posted.