Students and staff at Riverview Elementary School in Parlier received a surprise visit from California Governor Gavin Newsom Wednesday.
They watched as Newsom signed AB 72 and 73, his first bills as the governor of California.
The bills include an emergency drinking water and fire recovery package, as Newsom says for too long, the Central Valley has not been given the attention it needs and deserves.
He says he hopes Wednesday’s visit is a step in the right direction.
It’s not everyday you get to meet the governor when you’re in elementary school, let alone witness the first signing of assembly bills by the newly sworn-in governor.
“Do you think it’s a good idea raise your hand, or a bad idea raise your hand,” Newsom asks the children about the bills.
The school, and its community itself is experiencing a clean water shortage.
Water fountains at the school are not an option for students or staff. Since last May, water quality tests have come back saying it’s “unsafe.”
“When the signs go up that say ‘please don’t use the drinking fountains’ because it can affect your long term health, I’ve been here for 19 years, it’s a little bit scary,” says Lori Wolter, a teacher at the school.
Instead, filtered water is provided, but Newsom still calls the crisis concerning, and explains and why he pushed for $131.3 million in the middle of a fiscal year.
“It’s part of a package that includes more money to address the immediate needs for safe drinking water, and that’s making sure as embarrassed as I am to say this, allocating resources needed for bottle water and for emergency supply,” Newsom explained.
He considers this “short-term help” for communities like Parlier, and is working towards a longer term solution.