01/19/05 — Three schools without heat Tuesday

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Three schools without heat Tuesday

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 19, 2005 2:18 PM

Power outages Tuesday and today caused three county schools to be without heat, with students at one school dismissed early today.

In all three schools -- Northeast, Eastern Wayne Elementary and Norwayne Middle -- instruction continued Tuesday, and students were forced to wear their coats until heat could be restored.

"It's not our fault," said Sprunt Hill, assistant superintendent for auxiliary services with Wayne County public schools. "What happens when that electricity goes, our air handlers go. We lose our heat and everything until they get those back on."

He attributed today's problem to a transformer that went out this morning near Stoney Creek Church Road. A blown fuse on Tuesday caused the heat to go out at Eastern Wayne Elementary, he said. That problem was resolved after the electric company replaced it.

Progress Energy spokesperson Dana Yeganian said today's outage occurred at 6:20 a.m. and was restored by 7:15.

"At this point, we don't know the cause," she said, adding that it is being investigated.

The outage affected Northeast Elementary School, which is on N.C. 111.

Kristy Fair, public relations director for the school system, said it would take too long to get the school back up to an ideal temperature, so the decision was made to dismiss classes for the day.

An emergency message has been sent out to parents telling them about the dismissal and giving them the option of picking their child up from school, Ms. Fair said. She said students will be taken home on buses, but only be dropped off if the parent is home.

She said the heating system will run all night tonight to raise the temperatures to a comfortable level in time for students and staff to return to school on Thursday.

Norwayne Middle School also had heating problems on Tuesday.

Ms. Fair said heat went out in the new building after a fire alarm was pulled, which causes the heat to automatically turn off.

"When this happens," she said, "the air handlers have to be manually reset. Resetting them takes a certain amount of time to do."

At Eastern Wayne on Tuesday, a power outage partially knocked out the electricity, she said, affecting heat in select areas of the school. Classes continued normally, with students instructed to wear their coats, she said.

"It's an inconvenience," Hill said. "Anytime you have this kind of cold snap, there's an enormous amount of use. But it's not our heating as such.

"Still, we don't want our kids to sit in a cold school."