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MIDDLE SCHOOL'S HEATING PROBLEM FROSTS PARENTS

Principal Amy Goodell took some heat for her decision to hold classes at Washington Middle School on Jan. 18 despite problems with a heating unit that reportedly dropped temperatures into the 40s.

Several parents, upset by reports of children wearing coats and gloves in class, expressed their concerns to school officials.

Goodell recalled that repair technicians and building maintenance personnel assured her that heat would be restored.

"If your students are at school or on their way to school, we feel it's the safest place for kids to be," she said. "The heat was up and running (and the temperature reached) 67 or 68 degrees by midmorning."

But one parent, addressing the issue during a meeting of the School Board on Tuesday night, questioned the decision.

Resa Murray of Dunn Avenue said she appreciates officials not wanting to send children home. Still, when she heard about the heating problem, she picked up her daughter from school.

"Yes, it was very cold there, and I understand that the school system was looking out for the children's best (interests) by not sending them home," Murray said. "My concern is that if we know about a situation that is happening at 5:30 in the morning, why don't we take care of that situation and assure that our students . . . are taken care of, whether there's a delay or school was canceled?"

Goodell, though, said the issue was blown out of proportion. She said once she knew about the problem, a heating company began work. She was assured there would be heat by the time pupils arrived.

"The heat was on by 9 o'clock or 9:10," she said. "It was blowing air of 70 degrees into the room. It felt like it was cold because the building was cold.

"It was never as low as 40 degrees (as some contended), but it was cool," she said. "The decision was made because it was only one area of the building, and we were able -- if teachers chose to move students to open rooms -- to move classes for that time."

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