New Mexico

North Star Elementary School experiences heating problems

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – There’s a checklist for sending your kids to school: backpack, jacket, maybe a lunch box, but who sent their kids to school with a radiant heater?

Apparently, this was the reality for at least one student at an Albuquerque elementary school in the Northeast Heights. We spoke to some very concerned parents and a representative from the Albuquerque Public School.

Parents say the heat in the fifth grade wing of North Star Elementary School has been out for almost a month. They first learned about the cold classrooms when a teacher notified families earlier this month.

An APS spokesman said the heating system was repaired on Wednesday but in the meantime three long and cold weeks had passed for the children.

“It was very cold and I brought an extra heater,” a fifth-grader explained on the phone as her father drove her home from school on Wednesday.

“You brought an extra heater?” her father asked.

“Yes, Mom asked me to bring a little plug-in heater that we have,” she said.

Some families with fifth graders at North Star Elementary School have had to get creative with dressing for school. Ever since they got a text from their kids’ teacher on Jan. 5 saying the heat is off and the kids should dress warmly — and in layers.

“I don’t blame the teacher at all for working on it. But they had no luck, every time the caretaker comes out he says he fixed it but it wasn’t fixed and that started earlier this year,” the father added on the drive home.

But the problems didn’t end there. Last Tuesday, the parents received another text message from the teacher, suggesting that the children bring blankets to class because the heating is still not fixed.

“I’m sure they don’t learn much because they’re more concerned with how to stay warm,” the father said.

APS spokeswoman Monica Armenta confirms the heating system broke in the fifth-grade wing of the building earlier this month – but it was fixed on Wednesday.

Still, while the kids were in class, average temperatures in Albuquerque — since it broke — have hovered between 70 and 80 degrees. In fact, the only time the temperature surpassed 40 degrees in the past three weeks was on January 15, a Sunday when there were no students at school.

“I was deeply concerned and disappointed with APS, how can you keep children going to school when we had temperatures as low as 20 degrees and highs as high as 30 and high winds? It’s unacceptable, it’s super unacceptable,” he said

According to Armenta, this is actually a common problem in the district, and many heaters fail every year. She claims that staff are doing their best to complete these repairs as quickly as possible. The addition of their technicians will be checking North Star’s elemental heater on Thursday to ensure these repairs are sticking.

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