Complaints made about lack of heat in schools Union says nine were not warm enough

November 05, 1996|By John Rivera | John Rivera,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore Teachers Union fielded complaints from schools with chilly classrooms yesterday, leading union officials to criticize the school system's decision to keep schools open without sufficient heat.

Linda D. Prudente, a BTU spokeswoman, said the union's office heard from at least nine schools complaining that classrooms were not heated properly.

"I talked to an elementary schoolteacher today and she said none of the classrooms were above 60 [degrees] and the majority of them were in the low 50s by the end of the day," Prudente said.

Superintendent Walter G. Amprey said only two schools had no heat: The Baltimore School for the Arts and Harbor City Learning Center, where boilers at both are awaiting parts and repairs are scheduled to be completed by the end of the week.

Amprey said school officials received complaints from six schools yesterday about insufficient heat. Interestingly, the School for the Arts did not complain, he said.

He said he visited two of the chilly schools, Harbor City Learning Center and Douglass High School.

Amprey said the decision to keep schools open was the right one. "We felt that with the kids in school, it was a greater liability to send them home," he said. "The buildings were not that cold."

Schools that were cold took steps to adjust, Amprey said, including having students wear coats in class and shifting some classes to parts of the building that were warm.

The complaints about insufficient heat come in the wake of recent city and state inspections of boilers in Baltimore schools that revealed widespread code violations and safety problems that will require about $2 million to repair.

Those inspections came after articles in The Sun described how a water-heater accident sent scalding water and steam from a toilet at Hazelwood Elementary-Middle School that severely burned a 7-year-old student.

But Amprey said yesterday's heating complaints were unrelated to the boiler problems. Rather, he believes that some of the heating systems were not started Sunday, which would have had the buildings at an acceptable temperature when classes started yesterday morning.

"There is some concern I have that this is something that should have been done during the weekend to make sure schools are ready," he said.

Pub Date: 11/05/96

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