Heating issue hot topic in schools; superintendent releases statement

By Beth Sergent - bsergent@civitasmedia.com

POINT PLEASANT — A hot topic in Mason County Schools is the cold, literally, and the heating issues it is causing at area schools.

On Thursday, classes were dismissed early at Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School due to heating difficulties in over 20 classrooms, according to Superintendent Jack Cullen. Classes were canceled at PPJ/SHS on Friday while technicians sort out the problem.

Technicians were to be sent to Hannan Junior/Senior High School as well. Cullen said it was determined a computerized sensor was incorrectly set in one classroom at Hannan, causing the temperature to drop. He also said the fans at Hannan required new belts to provide more heat circulation which was being fixed and space heaters were being provided in the interim where needed.

Beale Elementary students were dismissed early last Friday due to half the school being without heat but Cullen said maintenance staff fixed that issue.

There were other confirmed heating issues arsing at other schools like Point Pleasant Primary School and New Haven Elementary School, with the latest burst of cold weather being one of the first real tests of the winter for the heating units.

Cullen said, no matter the situation, if the temperature drops in a classroom below what is appropriate, students will be moved to a warmer area of the school. If there is nowhere to send the students, such as in a situation where a large area of the building is lacking suitable heat, the students will be sent home, Cullen said.

Mason County Schools has a new computerized system which allows Cullen to see real time readouts of thermostats in every classroom in Mason County, to monitor what is happening when it comes to temperature. On Thursday afternoon, one classroom at Hannan was reading as being well below a suitable temperature, according to the report sent to the Point Pleasant Register by Cullen.

Cullen provided the Point Pleasant Register with the following statement about the heating issues on Thursday:

“Mason County Schools received a Major Improvement Grant through the West Virginia School Building Authority as an Energy Performance Grant. The grant included a new air handler unit at Wahama, a new boiler at Roosevelt, new LED lighting in all of our buildings, weather stripping on doors and windows, low flow sinks and toilets, and controls on all HVAC units. Over the summer, the HVAC controls were installed and at the beginning of the school year, the county experienced problems with some air conditioning units and the new controls. It took a few weeks to get all of the air conditioning systems running smoothly. When the heating season began, there were also some problems with some of the units and the new controls. Airflow set points and startup times have all been adjusted. As the temperatures have dropped, some problems remain with units tripping out and shutting off. Our HVAC technicians have been working on the issues along with the company that installed the controls. If a few classrooms go down without heat in a school, the principal will move the students to warmer areas in the building. Maintenance purchased a few portable heaters to put in classrooms when this happens to help with heat. If several units stop working and there is not a place to move students to more temperate areas of the building, I will send the students home and close the school until the heat is fixed. I know this is an inconvenience to parents when this happens because of the need for parents to find childcare. I assure you that our Maintenance Department is working on the heating issues as quickly as possible. Thank you for your cooperation.”

By Beth Sergent


Reach Beth Sergent at bsergent@civitasmedia.com or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.

Reach Beth Sergent at bsergent@civitasmedia.com or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.