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Heating issues plague DeKalb Schools buildings

Whitney McGinniss she sent her third-grader to Laurel Ridge Elementary School, located in Decatur, Wednesday morning “bundled up” after a note sent to parents said some classrooms did not have heat.

“My daughter’s classroom is not on the list, but I still bundled her up because ... that doesn’t mean it won’t get worse,” she said.

DeKalb County School District officials said Wednesday that 11 schools were contending with heat issues in several classrooms, expected to be addressed before week’s end. Parents have complained on social media about other schools not listed by DeKalb Schools officials.

Wednesday afternoon, officials said the following schools were experiencing issues:

• Laurel Ridge Elementary School

• Clarkston High School

• Salem Middle School  

• Murphy Candler Elementary School  

• Chapel Hills Elementary School  

• Chapel Hill Middle School  

• Bob Mathis Elementary School  

• DeKalb Elementary School for the Arts  

• International Student Center  

• Arabia Mountain High School  

• Shadow Rock Elementary School

“The goal and standard is to make sure all HVAC units are in good working order,” district officials said in a statement. “However, as with any mechanical device, maintenance beyond normal upkeep may be required based on usage and happenstance. When challenges do occur, we make the necessary repairs and take the proper actions to maintain a healthy and safe learning environment for students and staff. 

 “To accommodate students and teachers throughout the district, schools heavily impacted by HVAC issues relocated students to other classrooms, and/or provided classrooms individual heaters.” 

McGinniss said she received a text saying there were some heating issues, then another that was a bit more specific. An email late Tuesday listed room numbers and teachers’ names.

“It was below freezing when I drove my daughter to school,” McGinniss said. “I kind of felt guilty for it. I want her to be educated, but this is not a conducive learning environment if these kids are in these classrooms and it’s that cold out and there’s no heat.”

Heating and cooling issues at the school are an ongoing thing. This recent spate has been ongoing since students returned Monday after a week off. During a parent meeting in September, an administrator apologized for air conditioning not working in the room being used.

School maintenance issues have been of concern recently as teachers have complained their buildings are making them ill, with leaking roofs making way for the spread of mold in many of the district’s aging buildings. District records in October showed nearly 7,000 active school maintenance requests across its nearly 140 buildings.

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