Malfunctioning boilers send SCS kids home


By David Avitabile

Malfunctioning boilers forced Schoharie Central School to send elementary school students home early on Monday.
Elementary school students were dismissed at 10:15am Monday when district personnel were unable to repair the automatic valves on the school's two boilers before students began to arrive in the morning, according to Superintendent Brian Sherman. The valves that allow the flow of heated water to the classroom heating units would not open properly.
The temperature in the building was 58-degrees when students arrived and teachers took their students to locations in the high school as maintenance and the district's repair service worked on the valves, Mr. Sherman added. One pump was restarted and the building was being heated but would have taken more than two hours to get to the level (68 degrees) required to maintain classes. The other pump was damaged and needs to be replaced.
The building was heated by later in the day Monday and classes as scheduled were set for Tuesday. The high school was not affected by the issue.
There was a similar, but more minor, heating issue in the district two weeks ago.
Monday's problem was compounded when the district lost the network servers and the phone system at the school.
An electrical surge or problem temporarily took down the computer servers in the district, the phone system, and the classroom public address system, according to Mr. Sherman.
The district did not lose power but this cascading problem compounded the problem of notifying the media and activating the district's School News Notifier, Mr. Sherman said. Initial messages went out via smart phone access until the servers were reset and the phone system came back on line. This event only impacted that portion of the buildings served by the two elementary boilers.
Students were housed temporarily in the high school while notifications were being made. Students began boarding buses at 10:05am and departed at 10:25am. Mr. Sherman said 15 elementary students returned to the building because there was no response from parents when the buses were at the children's homes or drop off points. They were served lunch and within 40 minutes, all had been picked up by their parents.
Students in grades three through six were in the high school gym with their teachers and grades kindergarten through two plus Headstart were in the high school cafeteria. The primary students were doing activities at the tables and thought it was "fun" to be in the high school building, Mr. Sherman added.
The teachers, administration, and transportation department and drivers did an outstanding job under very unusual circumstances, he noted.
District officials are looking into any links in automation that led to the combination of problems.