On Monday, officials at the Austin Independent School District say 21 out of their 150 campuses had problems with heat. The issues, they said were isolated, a couple of classrooms or a gym, at one school the cafeteria didn’t have heat.
“In some instances, it's a control issue, so our technicians would visit a site to turn on a boiler those types of situations. sometimes it's mechanical,” says Louis Zachary, AISD’s Maintenance Director. “We actually have an energy management system,” he says, adding, “and our technicians are sitting in the office and they have a control system, so when they receive a work request or the phone calls, we can actually diagnose it fairly quickly from our control system and dispatch the technicians to take care of it.”
Zachary says they “had the heaters running” on Sunday, to prepare for students returning from the weekend.
“We really can't predict them until we have a cold spell like what we've experienced in the last few days,” he said.
He also said most of the problems were fixed by the end of Monday and that space heaters were brought in to warm up the areas.
At Burnet Middle School, AISD officials said five classrooms and the library was without heat. They say the thermostats didn’t connect to the HVAC system and had to be rebooted. Just before school was out for the day on Monday, a vendor arrived with several space heaters. District officials say they will have the space heaters there on hand, until the issue is fixed.
In November, Burnet’s facility report card shows the HVAC system scored an average grade, because it was older. District officials say Monday’s heat problems had nothing to do with the system itself.
“They should say something, like a text or something,” says Yolanda Vasquez. Her nephew is a 7th grader at Burnet. She says she isn’t upset about the heat problems. But she is frustrated that the district send out an alert so her sister could have sent the child with added layers. “If they aren't saying anything or call or send a message to the parents they not taking it serious,” she says.
Other parents said they would have like to know too, especially because it’s flu season. “If there's no heating and it's really cold, especially like the weather today, it's not good for the children,” says Rebecca Jumi, Her son is a 7th grader at Burnet too.
AISD is out for winter break after normal dismissal time on Tuesday. District officials say they will test the heat again before students return just after the New Year.
AISD sent FOX 7 the following list of schools affected by heat problems on Monday.
Barrington, Cowan, Dawson, Galindo, Gullett, Hart, Hill, Joslin, Oak Hill, Perez, Pleasant Hill, St. Elmo, Winn, Wooten
Bailey, Burnet, Dobie, Webb
Bowie, McCallum, Eastside Memorial