Broward teachers say schools across county not being heated properly; A/C units still running
With temperatures only reaching 60 degrees during the day the last few weeks, everyone in South Florida has been cold, but the hundreds of students in our Broward County Public Schools have been especially cold. Teachers around the county have reported to the Broward Teachers’ Union that many schools do not have workable heaters or no heaters at all, while others have said the air conditioning continues to run, or that any temperatures must be controlled downtown.
“We began reporting problems with the district’s air conditioning system last year, but the employees’ warnings resulted in…no action,” BTU president Pat Santeramo said. “Now, the air conditioners are adding to the already cold temperatures outside and we are once again asking district officials to take action because our members’ worksites are also our students learning environments.”
The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Chill Warning until 10 a.m. Monday morning. Consequently, most employees and students arrived at school today temperatures in the low 40 degrees with temperatures predicted to remain unseasonably cold before a “warm up” starts on Wednesday.
“Two of our buildings are without working heat. It appears because our building is old, it ran on a boiler heater which was not addressed when the new AC system was installed thus there is no working heater. They did turn the blowers off, which was blowing cold air into the building. They assured us that a heater would be installed no later than February.,” said Karen Proia at Nova Middle School. “Needless to say, it is freezing now, and our poor students in these building sit cold and stiff as frozen icicles–keep in mind not all our students have “winter” clothes, so some are wearing shorts with no jacket–not at all healthy for our students, or anyone having to work and learn under these conditions.”
The BTU began investigating problems with the district’s air conditioning system as part of its efforts to eliminate millions of tax dollar waste in the school system. Many teachers have repeatedly reported that their classrooms air conditioners cannot be adjusted or shut off despite the rooms being so cold employees and students must wear winter coats, hats and gloves even in normal regional temperatures, said union officials. Union leaders alerted district officials to the problem in an official report last spring, again this summer and once again before the winter holiday break.
“If district officials had listened to the observations of employees last spring, this problem could have been avoided. While many employees will unfortunately be forced to work and learn in very uncomfortable conditions, hopefully, Notter will finally take action to remedy this situation today,” Santeramo said.
The union conducted an online survey asking employees to report conditions at their schools after receiving telephone calls from employees and received the reports below via e-mail last week.
John Odoms, Dillard High
“Room temp is too low for this kind of weather. Great for snowmen.”
Adrianne Wright, Park Lakes Elementary
“It has been cold in the building from Monday, Jan 4 until present time. No adjustment was made in the AC. It seems like even colder. My students are wearing hats and mittens in the classroom. Complaining how cold it is in the room. Asking why don’t we have the heater on?
Marcia Robbe, Coconut Creek Elementary
“There are rooms in the school that feel like an ice box. Children are wearing their hats and gloves in the room as well as their jackets. Our heat/air is all controlled by downtown. I don’t know if our principal can do anything about it. I do know that our custodian has tried to make it better but it seems it is out of his control.
Lynn Lieberman, Indian Trace Elementary
“Indian Trace does not have a heating system. Cold air is being circulated through the air vents. I was told that the air conditioning units are off, but fresh air has to be circulated. My room is freezing.”
Jennifer Bates, Forest Glen Middle School
“My head maintenance guy came to my room on Monday, after I requested the heat be turned on and instead turned the blower off, which was blowing cold air in from outside making the room that much colder. He told me that the heat is controlled by “downtown” and that turning off the blower is all he can do. Although the room is now warmer than it was because we no longer have cold air blowing in, I, and my students, have been wearing multiple layers, plus coats, gloves, and hoods/hats all day just to stay warm IN THE CLASSROOM!”
Mitchell Comiskey, Forest Glen Middle
“No heat in the classrooms, however the front office and media center are substantially warmer.
Johnny Jones, Cypress Run/Spectrum
“No heat period during this cold spell. Have been told that the facility has no heating system. No alternative methods of heating have been provided.
Marina Gross, Stirling Elementary
“Classroom Teachers & students are cold: wearing hats, coats / jackets..One Teacher has a thermometer which registered 61 degrees. It is not every classroom that is affected, which lends itself to conclude that the system is not calibrated or functioning properly. Some areas are warmer than others…When our head custodian is asked about it, he states he does not have control over the temp. It is controlled by an outside facilities operation. He was asked to call a person named “Mitch”. If there is not heat..at least turn off the air and let the vent run..I do not know how this system is controlled.”
Paul Zimmermann, Pioneer Middle school.
“We do not have a heating system as part of our HVAC system. Our school has been cold in the 50′s We also do not have a way to move air (a fan that operates separately form the AC). So to keep it from getting stuffy, it would require turning on the AC just to circulate air.”
Sharon Hepburn, Thurgood Marshall Elementary
“Office area is warm (separate building). Classroom building -no heat on”
Mary Van Den Heuvel, Oakland Park Elementary
“There is a quad building of pre-k ESE children. The warmest room was 60 and the coldest was 52 they did offer a empty room that did have heat. Putting 38 pre-k students in a room with max cap of 30 was not ok by me. I kept my students in coats and hats…The sink water is ice cold the students (& me) froze washing hands after using the restroom. The school board also is fixing a door threshold problem and removed the door to my class yesterday which made it even colder. Today they are here again taking the door off of a room to work
Camille Saccente/Connie Kalish, Edgewood Admin. Center-ESE Itinerant Program
“Itinerants are usually on the road every day and we go to the office on Wednesdays to meet as a group. We were told by our administrator to stay at our schools yesterday because there was no heat in the building. I’m not sure how long this has been a problem for since I haven’t been at the office since before the break.”
Susan Tomanek, Bennett Elementary
“No heat in MC – 50 degrees”
Brenda Hulse, Coral Cove Elementary
“After a few cold days last year, I complained to the front office and the head custodian telling him that my room is ridiculously cold. My room is normally cold but when it’s cold outside it’s even worse. He informed me that there was nothing he could do because it was “district-controlled”. So after this week of freezing weather, I don’t even bother anymore.”
Mrs. Avis White-Purcell, Broward Estates Elementary School
“System is monitored from down town. They control the system. No heat in the building it is still chilling.”
Jason Frank, Coral Springs High School
“If our school has a heating system it seems that no one is using it. Meanwhile, several teachers have noticed that the building is actually getting colder as the day goes on. Almost as if the A/C is still on.”
Anne Skurnick, Pines Middle
School has been freezing over the past 3 days! Students and teachers both “complaining. Being a science teacher, I have a Galileo Thermometer in my room which gives the approximate temperature of the room (within 5 degrees). It’s been steadily reading 68 degrees! We (myself and the students) can feel the A/C blowing from the vents in the ceiling!”
Anonymous, Nova High School
“Many teachers have complained to me that there is no heat in their classrooms. One teacher brought in a temperature gauge and it was 56 degrees in her room. The solution: the ac was turned off. There is no heat to be turned on. Our portable cafeteria where the drama teacher has classes is so cold that the teacher is wearing a coat and scarf all day. Her face is chapped from the cold in that room.”
Ketty Hill, Pompano Beach High
“Our school is freezing. I have not felt any heat in these three days.”
Fran Wernersbach, Stoneman Douglas High School
“One building (mine) had the air conditioner running every day this week. I was teaching wearing a winter coat, gloves, and an ear covering. The kids were shivering in class as well.”
Laura Hausfeld, Gulfstream Middle School
“Our school is very old. The heating system is not working well, although the janitorial/maintenance staff at our school is trying very hard to get it working. The heat did warm up for a short while today, but had to be turned off because it blew out more cold air than hot air. Yesterday and today the Science Department Chair reported that it was in the low 60′s in her room. Yesterday it was 62 degrees. I do think maintenance of school buildings, and that includes adequate air circulation and room temperature, should be more important than new football fields.”
Caryl Hattan, Whispering Pines
“Our school does not have HEAT, only A/C No ability to heat school.”
Brenda Hall, A.C.Perry Middle
“No Heat In The Old Building And Portables”
Tracie de la Vega, Cooper City Elementary
“Some rooms have been cold & some rooms have been uncomfortably warm. I spoke with our head custodian who said that the heat is set at 68 degrees. Which would mean that it probably isn’t coming on during the day & I know the whole system is turned off at night. She also said that just the blower has been on which would explain the cold air in some rooms but would not explain why some rooms have been too warm. This is my 8th year at this school and we have always had issues with the AC system.”
Sandra Reid, Oriole Elem
“Our heating system is not working. A work order has been called in, but we have no word on when the system will be fixed. So we are freezing!!!! I would think that the school board would have the heating and cooling systems checked in all schools to ensure that the learning and working conditions are suitable for all. I have been at this location for 10 years, and we are always freezing or burning up.”
Marcia Martin, Everglades Elementary
“One side of the building is still blowing cold air and it seems like it is ok for everyone as no one has come out to even turn the system off. We were freezing the last few days in our classrooms. I believe it’s a defect but we’ve complained all year long about this excessive freezing and now winter its worst.”
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