Middletown high school heating system fails as temps plunge
The chill in the air wasn't only felt outdoors Wednesday in Middletown. Students in part of the township's school district also had to deal with cooler-than-normal temperatures during classes as the district worked to repair issues with the heating system.
The problem primarily impacted Middletown High School North, which houses about 1,400 students, Superintendent of Schools William George told NJ 101.5.
"Since the return from winter recess, we unfortunately have been experiencing issues with our heating system," George said in an emailed statement. "Certain areas of the building are much colder than desired. Over the past two days, I have visited every room in the building to assess the conditions."
The superintendent said the problem stems from issues with the geothermal heating system which was taken offline so that maintenance work could be done. When the system was back online, the temperatures in parts of the high school facility were colder than desired - in some areas of the school, the temperature only reached the low 50s.
"Our heating system was shut down and pumps were drained over the winter recess to complete boiler upgrades. When the system returned online Saturday, we noted that consistent heat was not being supplied to the majority of classrooms," George said. "This was caused by screens clogged with sediment, computerized controls that needed adjustments, and frozen rooftop units."
Many students were relocated to warmer classrooms as maintenance crews worked to repair the problem. George said no classes were canceled as a resulted of the heating problems. He said staff members have been working to repair the problems throughout the building.
"Our administrators and facilities staff have been working diligently with our contractors and architect to determine the best way to solve these problems. As soon as the heating issues were identified, we began to take steps to improve climate conditions. We will continue to make additional progress as quickly as possible."
So far, the superintendent said that "notable improvement" has been made since the repairs began and temperatures in "a significant number of classrooms" are now in the 60s and 70s. He said the district will continue to monitor the temperatures throughout the building and shift classes to the warmer rooms as needed until every classroom is "properly heated."
The superintendent said he understands the concerns of parents and asked the community to be patient as the district works to repair the heating system and restore heat to every classroom at Middletown North.
"Please be assured that the district values the comfort of each student and staff member. It is also important to note that the district is not in violation of statutory codes or district policy," George said in a statement. "The district’s administration will continue to place the highest priority on rectifying this problem."
Toniann Antonelli is the digital managing editor for news at NJ 101.5. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.