John Rohlf, editor
The Warren County R-III School Board has approved a plan to designate a room in each school district building as an exclusive lactation support room.
Missouri Bill 432, passed in 2021, requires school districts to adopt written policies to provide accommodations for lactating employees and students to express breast milk, breastfeed a child, or meet other needs related to breastfeeding.
School District Superintendent Gregg Klinginsmith advised the board to implement a policy in which designated rooms are used exclusively and solely for lactation support.
“I think everybody’s pretty much all over the state on the interpretation of this law,” Klinginsmith said. “But I think the safest thing for the neighborhood is to use the absolute term where… it’s a dedicated space that’s not used for anything else. We really want to follow the law and that would be the way to go.
Klinginsmith said the district could build modular “pods” in every building in the district at a total cost of about $300,000. The cost of a handicapped accessible pod is around $20,000 with no installation fees included.
Alternatively, they could use rooms in district buildings and spend less than $300,000, Klinginsmith said.
Board member Rodger Tucker said the modules are convenient. However, he believes that the neighborhood can find places in certain buildings.
Principals have already considered which rooms in school buildings could be used for the lactation support room under the policy, Klinginsmith said.
A 2022-23 school year budget approved by the board last week calls for the district to spend about $100,000 on spaces.
Klinginsmith said the current plan is to install three modules at an expected cost of $50,000, with the remaining $50,000 allocated to renovating existing spaces in district buildings. He noted that one of the district’s goals is a requirement in law to have space available for use in every building, including on weekends.
Earlier this month, board member Franci Schwartz expressed concern about spending money to use a patch or capsule exclusively for lactation support if it is very infrequently used. She noted that the district is in a budget crisis. She expressed her concern again during the special meeting last week.
“I’m just not convinced that we need to deliver something that’s going to sit there 365 days a year and maybe for years at a time and not be used. … Seems to me like that’s an awful lot of money to spend if it’s for something that won’t be used for long periods of time,” Schwartz said.
Board member Sarah Janes noted that maintenance costs for the halls, once in place, should be quite low.
“A part will probably not be damaged and it will work that way for years,” Janes said. “And so it should be single money.”
Klinginsmith said the goal will be to use pods only when necessary. The district is always looking for less expensive and fiscally responsible options.
“We have some very good people here who are financially responsible for their budgets,” Klinginsmith said. “Our managers, our managers, we’re not going to spend money just to spend it. We will – I hate to say “cheapest possible”, because we want it to be nice and good – but it will be as cheap as possible.
In the Wright City R-II School District, Superintendent Chris Berger confirmed that the Wright City District already has a policy in place to accommodate lactation support beginning in the 2022-2023 school year. He confirmed that the district had rooms available in every building in the district.