Dispute over severity of heating problem at W. Philly school

Posted: February 06, 2013

For about two weeks, the heat was out in much of Huey School in West Philadelphia, staff said. As of Monday, it still was not operational in the gym, cafeteria, and many classrooms.

With temperatures hovering around freezing, "you can see your breath in the air," said a teacher, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal.

On Tuesday morning, after a reporter's call to the Philadelphia School District, the heat was fixed.

Chanice Savage, a spokeswoman for the district, said that the work was completed Tuesday morning, but that the principal reported that at no time was classroom heat nonoperational.

Sometimes the heat didn't work in the gym and sometimes it didn't work in the cafeteria, but if the cafeteria was cold, students ate in their classrooms, and if the gym was cold, they took health class in their classrooms, Savage said.

The teacher disputed those claims. Classrooms were frigid, and children sometimes reported to gym class wearing coats, the teacher said.

Students in the teacher's classroom were bundled up in every layer they could find, often shivering, hands often stuck in their jackets to keep warm, according to the teacher.

Many of the district's buildings are old and in need of repair. Teachers and staff at University City High School have reported myriad problems in that school, where parts of the building are cold and wet from standing water, for instance. The heat at that school is balky at best, occupants report.

Contact Kristen Graham at 215-854-5146, kgraham@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @newskag. Read her blog, "Philly School Files," at www.philly.com/schoolfiles.


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