Lactation rooms plan approved by R-III School Board

John Rohlf, Staff Writer
Posted 7/5/22

The Warren County R-III School Board has approved a plan to designate one room in each school district building as an exclusive lactation support room.

Missouri’s House Bill 432, passed in …

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Lactation rooms plan approved by R-III School Board

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The Warren County R-III School Board has approved a plan to designate one room in each school district building as an exclusive lactation support room.

Missouri’s House Bill 432, passed in 2021, requires school districts to adopt written policies to provide accommodations to lactating employees and students to express breast milk, breastfeed a child or address 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 only for lactation support.

“I think everyone’s kind of all over the board across the state on interpreting this law,” Klinginsmith said. “But I think the safest thing for the district is to use the absolute term where … it’s a dedicated space 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 construct modular “pods” at each district building for a total cost of about $300,000. The cost of a pod that is handicap accessible is about $20,000 without installation costs included.

Alternatively, they could utilize rooms in district buildings and spend less than $300,000, Klinginsmith said.

Board member Rodger Tucker said the pods are convenient. However, he believes the district can find spaces in certain buildings.

School principals have already considered what rooms in school buildings could be used for the lactation support room under the policy, Klinginsmith said.
A 2022-2023 school year budget approved by the board last week calls for the district to spend about $100,000 for the spaces.

Klinginsmith said the current plan is to install three pods at an expected cost of $50,000, with the other $50,000 allocated to refurbish existing spaces in district buildings. He noted one of the district’s focuses is a requirement in the law to have a space available for use in every building, including on weekends.

Board member Franci Schwartz raised concern earlier this month about spending money to use a room or a pod exclusively for lactation support if it is very seldomly used. She noted the district is in a budget crunch. She once again expressed her concern at last week’s special meeting.

“I’m just not sold on the idea that we have to provide something that’s going to sit there 365 days a year and maybe for years at a time and not get used. … It just seems like an awful lot of money to me to spend if it’s going to be for something that doesn’t get used for long periods of time,” Schwartz said.

Board member Sarah Janes noted that the maintenance costs of the rooms, once in place, should be pretty low.

“A room most likely is not going to get damaged and it’s going to be functioning in that way for years to come,” Janes said. “And so this should be one-time money.”

Klinginsmith said the goal will be to only utilize the pods as necessary. The district is always looking for cheaper and fiscally responsible options.

“We’ve got some real great people here that are fiscally responsible with their budgets,” Klinginsmith said. “Our principals, our directors, we’re not going to spend money just to spend it. We’ll do it — I hate to say ‘as cheaply as possible,’ because we want it to be nice and be good — but it’ll be as cheaply as possible.”

In the Wright City R-II School District, Superintendent Chris Berger confirmed the Wright City district already has a policy in place to accommodate lactation support starting in the 2022-2023 school year. He confirmed the district had rooms available at each district building.

Lactation rooms, Warren County School Board, Warren County School District

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