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'They’re thinking about the many versus the few': Jana Elementary begins redistricting

Redistricting for Jana Elementary students and staff started this Monday across five different schools.

FLORISSANT, Mo. — Redistricting for Jana Elementary students and staff started this Monday across five different schools: Barrington Elementary, Brown Elementary, Coldwater Elementary, McCurdy Elementary and Walker Elementary. 

Jana remains closed following an independent report done by the Boston Chemical Data Corporation that found radioactive waste on school grounds.

Testing done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and SCI Engineering, however, shows the levels are safe.

Mallinckrodt Chemical Works, located north of downtown St. Louis, processed a majority of the uranium for the building of the first atomic bomb.

The waste from Mallinckrodt was transported and stored at a site north of St. Louis Lambert International Airport from 1947 until the late 1960s.

It was then purchased by Continental Mining and Milling Company and moved to a site half a mile away.

The atomic bomb material was not stored in a protective manner and this resulted in the washing of radioactive waste into nearby Coldwater Creek, contaminating multiple areas including north St. Louis County. Jana sits on the edge of Coldwater Creek.

“This community has been disrupted in an unfair way that has created a sense of placeless-ness where we really had a wonderful place," PTA President Ashley Bernaugh said.

Bernaugh is seeing this through two lenses: Jana's PTA President, and Jana's parents.

“I’m disappointed in the rollout," she said. "It’s no shock we feel like we haven’t been treated as equal partners.”

PTA President Ashley Bernaugh said she’s disappointed with the Hazelwood School District’s oversight.

“Hazelwood School District is a leader, an educator. This is the perfect opportunity to do the community education we saw done around COVID. Or done around community literacy for that matter," she said.

 Other parents like Jason Bell said they feel the same.

“They’re thinking about the many versus the few," he said.

Bernaugh said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for cleaning the waste up.

“If the rest of Coldwater Creek that comes before Jana is not cleaned up, how do we ensure Jana's school property is not re-contaminated?”

Bell said the decision to redistrict could have lingering effects on any students, including his own daughter.

“If things come up, we have to manage it. If kids are bullied, we have to manage it. If the kids aren’t getting resources they needed because they didn’t get it from their other school, we have to manage it," he said.

Bernaugh said even this challenge will not break the Jana community.

“It’s an opportunity for our community to say ‘enough is enough,’ and that our community deserves better," she said.

5 On Your Side did reach out to the Hazelwood School District asking what’s next following the redistricting. 

They sent this response:

"Jana students and staff have been successfully reassigned to schools. The district has no new information to provide at this time."

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