Heating issues impact schools

NAUGATUCK — A borough school and classrooms at another were left in the cold this month due to heating issues.

Hop Brook Elementary School was closed Tuesday because there was no heat in the building.

Superintendent of Schools Sharon Locke said the boilers at Hop Brook, which was built in 1910, went out over the weekend. The alarm system, which is supposed to alert the borough when the boilers go out, failed to work, she said. So the problem was not discovered until Tuesday morning when students were about to return after the three-day weekend.

Locke said school was cancelled at Hop Brook because there wasn’t enough time to repair the problem and heat the school before students got there. The boilers were up and running by 11 a.m. on Tuesday and the system seemed in good working order, she said.

This is the second time this month the district has had to deal with heating problems at a school.

Earlier this month, when the temperatures were in the single digits, two classrooms at Andrew Avenue Elementary School lost heat. Officials didn’t close the school because Andrew Avenue has a unique heating system where each room has an individual heating unit, Locke said.

Students in classrooms without heat were moved to classrooms that had working heat, Locke said.

Locke said the heating systems in Andrew Avenue, which opened in 1971, are old and outdated.

The district has been looking at replacing the heating system at Andrew Avenue for a while, Locke said. However, the replacement comes with a $1.3 million price tag, she said.

The district may be able to get an Alliance Grant to cover 25 percent of the cost, but the borough would still be liable for approximately $975,000, Locke said.

Locke said the district is working with the borough on long-term plans for all of the schools.

“Our schools are older and each has its own unique set of issues,” Locke said. “I can’t understate the need. It is critical to have a long-term plan.”

The district has a contract with Sarracco Mechanical Services for heating and air conditioning work, Locke said. She said the district hadn’t received a bill from the company for the work at either school as of Tuesday.

In the meantime, the district is looking at buying a couple mobile furnaces in case of another heating outage at Andrew Avenue. The mobile furnace, which costs about $5,000 and is the only legal alternative way to heat the school, would be able to plug into the individual units at Andrew Avenue, Locke said.